Reporters Without Borders condemns attacks on journalists in the northern state ofJammu and Kashmir during coverage of parliamentary elections that are taking instages from 7 April to 12 May.Sheikh Inayet, a local correspondent for Times Now TV, and Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, areporter for the Sharherbeen Times, were covering a local party’s election meetingin Bandipora on 19 April when they were attacked and badly injured by members ofthe elite Special Operations Group (SOG), as well as police officers and reservists.Javed Dar, a photo-journalist working for Xinhua News, was attacked and injured bypolice in the town of Kulgam on 24 April, while the windows of the car of thejournalist accompanying him, Farooq Javed Khan, were smashed.Shabnam Fayz of Munsif TV and Aadil Umar Shah of Voice TV had to be hospitalizedafter being beaten by police while covering protests in Pulwama, a town to the westof Srinagar, on 24 April.“We call on the central government to shed light on these attacks and to do what isnecessary to arrest and punish those responsible,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head ofthe Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “The Kashmiri authorities must stopobstructing the work of journalists and stop controlling the flow of information inthe region.“In view of the electoral tension in Kashmir, it is vital that the authorities encouragea transparent election and allow a democratic debate. Kashmir must cease to be alawless region in which journalists keep on having to expose themselves to danger.”Inayet told Reporters Without Borders: “We were surrounded by a score of policeofficers who began to beat us with their gun butts and canes as soon as they heardthat we were Times Now journalists. They also took our cameras and damagedthem.”
Bhat said: “The police beat us unconscious. My back and arm were badly injured andI am unable to do my regular work.”Srinagar journalists staged a sit-in on 3 April in protest against the low number ofpress accreditations issued by the authorities, which restricted coverage of thecandidate registration process.India is ranked 140th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borderspress freedom index.