Indian forces assault, detain photojournalists in Kashmir

Two photojournalists said they were beaten by police and detained for several hours while they were covering a protest that escalated into a violent clash between youth and government forces in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on August 19, 2011, international news reports said.

Narciso Contreras, a Mexican photojournalist working for the Zuma Press agency in California, and Showkat Shafi, an Indian freelance photographer who has contributed to Reuters and Al-Jazeera, said they were caught up with youth protesters armed with stones when soldiers and police officers charged at them and began beating them with batons. Police then detained the two journalists for about five hours, according to The Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. Both journalists were treated in local hospitals for multiple bruises, the news reports said.

Al-Jazeera, citing Shafi, reported that his beating continued after he identified himself as a member of the press. Local police officer Showkat Ahmed told Al-Jazeera that the journalists were detained with the protesters and then released when they showed their identification. He denied that police had beaten the photographers, Al-Jazeera said.

The protesters were demonstrating against Indian rule, the latest incident in the state’s ongoing standoff between insurgents fighting for independence or union with Pakistan, and government forces.