New York, July 10, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by today’s attack on Shahid Rashid, editor of the Urdu-language daily State Reporter.
Rashid was shot this morning by masked gunmen as he rode his scooter to the newspaper office in the Chanapora area of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State. Both Pakistan and India claim the disputed territory of Kashmir for their own.
Local residents took Rashid to the S.M.H.S. Hospital in Srinagar, where he underwent surgery. Rashid had bullet wounds in his neck and arm, a hospital spokesperson told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
“We are disturbed that violent attacks against journalists in Kashmir are on the rise,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “Pressure on the media appears to be particularly acute with increased tensions in the region and elections for the state legislative assembly due in the fall.”
On May 29, three gunmen entered the offices of Kashmir Images and shot journalist Zafar Iqbal. Kashmir Images, a recently launched publication, is considered supportive of Indian government policies.
On April 18, a grenade exploded outside the residence of Ehsan Fazili, Srinagar correspondent for the English-language daily The Tribune, a regional newspaper that is published in Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana states. A separatist militant group later claimed the grenade was not intended for Fazili, who was not seriously injured. However, local journalists said the attack appeared to be a warning to the Srinagar press corps—many of whom live and work in the same neighborhood.
Apart from the danger of violent assault in Jammu and Kashmir State, Kashmiri journalists also run the risk of persecution at the hands of the Indian government. Iftikhar Gilani, the New Delhi bureau chief for the Jammu-based newspaper Kashmir Times, was imprisoned on June 9 and stands accused of violating India’s Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing classified documents. Gilani’s colleagues say the journalist has a reputation for balanced, independent reporting and fear that he was targeted unfairly.