The nineties was a tough time, and Journalism in Kashmir had become a profession of daredevils. Death threats, bomb explosions, attacks on family members, threatening phone calls had become a daily routine.
As veteran journalist Yusuf Jammel would approach his ringing vintage telephone at his office in Press Avenue, he now recounts, the uncertainty he and his tribe felt was traumatising.
Jameel says that it was only ‘God that helped him carry on’, despite many attacks, including the one in 1995 in which photographer Mushtaq Ali died.
The job to report things happening around them had put the lives of journalists at risk, and continues to do so today.
Almost everyone in Kashmir has been affected by the conflict that raged, directly or indirectly. And the list of the ‘messengers’ is also not a short one.
The journalists in Kashmir have paid their price for covering the conflict as it happened: Beaten up, kidnapped, intimidated and even killed for dispatching their professional duties in a conflict zone, in the line of fire.
List of journalists killed in Kashmir
- On February 19, 1990, Lassa Kaul, director of the government-owned Doordarshan television station, was shot dead by militants in Bemina area of Srinagar. The killing prompted the station’s closure for a three-year period.
- On March 1 1990, P N. Handoo, Assistant Director of Information was shot dead inside his office at Balgarden, Srinagar.
- On April, 23, 1991, murder of Al-Safa editor in chief Mohammad Shaban Wakil served to mute local journalists’ criticism of Kashmiri militants, whom many suspect killed him. According to reports, some gun-wielding men entered the office of Vakil and fired at him indiscriminately.
- September 29, 1992, a renowned calligrapher, Ali Mohammad Mahajan, working with Urdu newspapers Hamadard and the Daily Aftab, was killed by paramilitary forces along with his son, Aijaz.
- October 16, 1992, Syed Ghulam Nabi, Joint Director Information, was kidnapped and held captive for four days. On October 20, his dead body found with torture marks.
- October 3, 1993 slaying of Radio Kashmir news reader Mohammad Shafi Bhat sparked a wave of resignations by his colleagues.
- August 29, 1994 murder of freelance journalist Ghulam Mohammed Lone, had a chilling effect on stringers working in outlying areas of the Kashmir Valley. He was killed by a group of masked gunmen who also fatally shot his seven-year-old son in their home in Kangan, Kashmir.
- On September 10, 1995, Mushtaq Ali, an Agence France-Presse and Asian News International photographer, opened a package at an office in Srinagar’s Press Enclave. The “parcel exploded, severing Ali’s left hand, disfiguring his face and severely injuring his right hand and abdomen”. He died three days later.
- On April 10, 1996, Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, editor of the Urdu-language daily Rehnuma-e-Kashmir and the English-language weekly Saffron Times, was found dead floating in Kashmir’s Jhelum River. Family members alleged that Sheikh was abducted and then killed by a paramilitary group.
- On January 1, 1997 an anchor for the state-owned Doordarshan television station in Srinagar, Altaf Ahmed Faktoo, was shot dead by militants.
- On March 16, 1997 the same year a freelance journalist Saidan Shafi was shot dead along with his bodyguard in Srinagar. Shafi, a reporter for Doordarshan TV, the official Indian television network, for “Kashmir File,” a weekly news program, and “Eyewitness”, a five-minute nightly news capsule, was fatally shot in an ambush by two gunmen in Srinagar.
- April 8, 1997, Tariq Ahmad, a private television producer was killed.
- On August 10, 2000 a grenade attack at Residency Road in Srinagar brought a hive of journalists to cover the spot. Moments later a car parked in a lane exploded in which a Hindustan Times photojournalist, Pradeep Bhatia, was killed.
- Parvaz Muhammad Sultan, editor of a local news agency, was killed by unidentified gunmen in 2003. Sultan was the editor of an independent news-wire service, News and Feature Alliance (NAFA), based in Srinagar, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman.
- Senior reporter of region’s information department Abdul Majid Bhat was killed in a blast in Doda town, in Jammu, on May 9, 2004.
- Another scribe Asiya Jeelani was killed in a landmine blast in Kupwara on April 20, 2004. Jeelani was a freelance journalist who contributed to local newspapers, and a human rights activist who worked with a human rights group, Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). The blast also killed the driver of the vehicle.
- Ashok Sodhi, a photojournalist and then chief cameraman of Daily Excelsior, was killed on May 11, 2008 in Samba district of Jammu. Sodhi was caught in a crossfire close to India’s border with Pakistan.
- On 13th August, 2008, Javed Ahmed Mir, 35, was shot dead while covering a demonstration near Bagh-e-Mehtab. According to the BBC, apart from being a cameraman, was also a textile worker, to help support his wife and three children. Reporters Without Borders urged the government to carry out a thorough investigation into the death of local TV cameraman.
- On June 14, Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari was shot and killed outside his office in the Press Avenue in Srinagar. Unknown gunmen fired a volley of bullets on his car. Bukhari was shot multiple times in his head and abdomen.
List of journalists attacked in Kashmir:
October 2nd, editor of an Urdu Daily, Srinagar Times, Ghulam Mohammad Sofi‘s house attacked.
Srinagar Times office at Budshah Chowk attacked on October 5 and October 10. Ultimately burnt the same year.
November 4th, the printing press of Daily Aftab was damaged in a powerful explosion in Gaw Kadal.
On February 18th, a grenade was lobbed at the house of BBC Correspondent, Yusuf Jameel. The outer wall of the house was damaged.
On March 31st, another grenade attack on Yusuf Jameel‘s house.
March 7, Ghulam Hassan Zia, Assistant Director of Radio Kashmir, kidnapped by militants. He remained in their captivity till 26 May 1992.
A parcel bomb exploded at the office of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s local bureau in Indian-administered Kashmir, injuring three journalists. BBC correspondent Yusuf Jameel, photojournalist Mushtaq Ali of Asian News International and photographer Habibullah Naqash of The Asian Age newspaper. Mushtaq Ali later succumbed to his injuries.
July 8, Government backed militia, Ikhwan, abducts 19 local and Indian journalists in Anantnag district. Held as hostages for at least 7 hours, the abducted journalists included:
Fayaz Ahmed, cameraman New Delhi Television
Gulzar Ahmed, reporter Uqab
Masood Ahmed , reporter Wadi-ki-Awaz
Shujaat Bukhari, reporter Kashmir Times
Bilal Butt, cameraman Asian News International (ANI)
Javed Farooq, reporter The Pioneer and Greater Kashmir
Arshad Hussein, cameraman ZeeTelevision
George Joseph, reporter Business India Television (BITV)
Fayaz Kabli, photographer Reuters
Meraj-ud-din, cameraman Associated Press Television (APTV)
Sheikh Mushtaq, reporter Reuters
Tauseef Mustafa, photographer Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Surinder S. Oberoi, reporter Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Abdul Qayoom, reporter Uqab
Maqbool Sahil, photographer Chattan
Afzal Shah, photographer Kashmir Times
Zahoor Shair, reporter Al-Safa
Amin War, reporter Daily Excelsior
Unidentified, reporter Chattan
In a car bomb blast at Residency Road, Srinagar journalists Mr. Irfan Ahmed (Zee TV), Mr. H.U. Naqash (The Asian Age), Mr. Amin War (The Tribune), Mr. I. Tariq (Srinagar News), Mr. Fayaz Kabli (Reuters) and Mr. Aijaz Hussain (Excelsior) were injured.
On May 10, a group of 17 journalists were attacked by members of BSF’s 194 Battalion. The journalists were in the Kashmir town of Magam to cover the aftermath of the previous day’s suicide bomb attack against a BSF camp.
Among the most seriously injured of the journalists was B. Kumar, a cameraman from Hyderabad-based Eenadu Television (ETV), who was severely beaten and thrown into a stream. Kumar suffered head injuries requiring 15 stitches, according to sources at ETV. Aijaz Rahi, a photographer for The Associated Press, received a hairline fracture to his knee when he was hit with a wooden board.
Other injured journalists included Sanam Aijaz of ETV, Merajuddin (who, like many Indians, uses only one name), a cameraman for Associated Press Television News, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, a correspondent for The Hindu newspaper, Nissar Ahmed Bhat, photographer for The Hindu, Reuters correspondent Sheikh Mushtaq and photographer Fayaz Kabli, S. Irfan of the Press Trust of India, Fayaz Ahmad of the United News of India, Naseer Ahmad of Zee TV, Bilal Ahmad Bhat of Asian News International, S. Tariq of New Delhi Television, Tauseef of Agence France-Presse, Javid Ahmad Shah of the Indian Express newspaper, and Sayed Muzaffar Hussain of the daily Srinagar Times.
On April 18, a grenade exploded outside the residence of Ehsan Fazili, Srinagar correspondent for the English-language daily The Tribune.
On May 29, three gunmen entered the offices of Kashmir Images and shot journalist Zafar Iqbal. The assassination attempt was carried out by assailants who had pistols fitted with silencers and shot at Iqbal three times at his office in Srinagar. Zafar Iqbal, injured in the legs and in the face, lost an enormous amount of blood.
Iftikhar Gilani, the New Delhi bureau chief for the Jammu-based newspaper Kashmir Times, was imprisoned on June 9 and accused of violating India’s Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing classified document. He was charged with spying for Pakistan.
Shahid Rashid, editor of the Urdu-language daily State Reporter, was shot on 10 July 2002 by masked gunmen as he rode his scooter to the newspaper office in the Chanapora area of Srinagar.
September 18, Ghulam Mohammad Sofi editor of the popular Urdu-language daily Srinagar Times, was shot at his office. Sofi survived the attack and was hospitalized with a bullet injury to his right hand.
January 13, Iftikhar Gilani released after seven month imprisonment.
On April 26, militants attack the heavily guarded compound housing the Indian government–run broadcasters Doordarshan Television and Radio Kashmir, located in central Srinagar.
April 29, a militant group threatens to kill journalists in Kashmir.
In March Rafiq Maqbool of the Associated Press was harassed and beaten at a police checkpoint in Srinagar when police officers saw his cameras in his car.
On September 16, a journalist with Urdu newspaper ‘Chattan’, Sahil Maqbool (also known as Mohd. Maqbool Khokhar), was tossed into a jeep by five army men in civilian dresses. Charged as an ‘ISI agent’, Sahil was tortured in the ‘Hari Niwas’ Interrogation Center and faced maltreatment at the hands of military forces. Maqbool spent at least 41 months in prison without a proper charge.
September 25, Rafiq Maqbool of The Associated Press, and Amin War of the national newspaper The Tribune, were beaten by police while covering a violent demonstration in Srinagar.
July 29, one journalist, Muzzafar Ahmad Bhat, a cameraman for the Indian news channel Sahara TV, was critically injured after a grenade attack triggered gunfire between militants and security forces in the area.
Ejaz Ahmed and Aamir Ahmed of the regional multimedia agency ANI, Manzoor Ahmed of India TV, Muzamil Rashid of the Srinagar Mail newspaper, Firdous Ahmed of the Zee Kashmir TV station and Amir Hussain of the newspaper Subhe Kashmir, were also injured in the attack.
Shujaat Bukhari, a Kashmir correspondent for the national English-language daily ‘The Hindu’, on 10 June 2006 in Srinagar said he was kidnapped and driven out of the city centre, but when one of his abductors tried to shoot him, the gun jammed. Report.
4th December, Abdul Rouf, a journalist working for Srinagar News, and his wife Zeenat Rouf, were arrested and detained at a Special Operations Group (SOG) centre. Abdul Rouf and his wife have been held under an arms law. Police who presented a first report (FIR 341/2006) accuse them of sheltering armed separatists at their home.
Here’s a list of attacks on journalists in Kashmir from 2008-2011, compiled by Lubna Reshi in her 2015 research paper ‘Media and Human Rights: Journalist Covering Kashmir – A Conflict Zone‘:
“In this year the incidents of violence against the press declined with no reported cases of assault or murder, although journalists reporting on the rape and murder of two women by Indian police in Shopian faced harassment and death threats. In the month of July this year police threatened two Srinagar based journalists for reporting on the suspected disappearance of youth while in police custody.”
Lubna Reshi writes in her report.
“This year famous American broadcaster David Barsamian was deported back from New Delhi for his 2010 coverage of Kashmir. Also in the same year David Devadas, a prominent Indian journalist was assaulted by security forces because his vehicle was obstructing the way of convoy at Rambagh Srinagar.”
26 September, Azhar Qadri, a reporter for the independent Kashmir Tribune newspaper, was beaten and arrested by police while covering a protest in Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
On February 9, editors of various newspapers reported being told by police not to publish. Showkat Ahmed Motta, editor of the English-language Kashmir Reader, said the paper had printed its Sunday edition, but that police seized the copies and ordered staff not to publish the paper for four days, the reports said. Internet and Cable TV was also suspended by the authorities.
July 20, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) used violence against two employees of the English-language daily Rising Kashmir, Mohammad Jaffar and Abdul Qayoom, in Peerbagh, in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
On April 19, Sheikh Inayet, a local correspondent for Times Now TV, and Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a reporter for the Sharherbeen Times, were covering a local party’s election meeting in Bandipora when they were attacked and badly injured by members of the elite Special Operations Group (SOG), as well as police officers and reservists.
April 24, Javed Dar, a photo-journalist working for Xinhua News, was attacked and injured by police in the town of Kulgam, while the windows of the car of the journalist accompanying him, Farooq Javed Khan, were smashed.
On 24 April, Shabnam Fayaz of Munsif TV and Aadil Umar Shah of Voice TV had to be hospitalized after being beaten by police while covering protests in Pulwama, a town to the west of Srinagar.
On the morning of July 16, Indian authorities in Kashmir ordered halting of printing presses, confiscating printed papers due for delivery, and briefly detaining printing and delivery staff. Publications including Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir, Daily Kashmir Images, Kashmir Observer, and Kashmir Reader were affected.’
On August 5th, Mir Javid, a reporter for Kashmir News Network, a local news agency, was injured in an eye by shotgun pellets in the border district of Kupwara, in the north of the state.
On 8th August, Muneeb Ul Islam, a photojournalist working for the Kashmir Reader and Daily Roshni newspapers, was beaten by members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Anantnag, in the west of the state, while covering unrest. He said that, after thrashing him, the paramilitaries used him as a human shield to protect themselves against the stones that youths were throwing at them, and that two stones hit him.
August 17, a female reporter working for Rising Kashmir, Sumaiya Yousuf, was beaten up, abused and harassed by an IPS officer. The officer threatened to “pump all the bullets of his gun into her chest”. In her own words.
March 16, AFP photographer Tauseef Mustafa was manhandled by the police while waiting to cover a press conference.
On May 5, photojournalists of Varmul Post Eeshan Peer and Mohammad Younis of Gulistan were injured when they were reportedly attacked by J&K Police.
August 9, 2017, police detained and harassed Idrees Bukhtiyar, an intern reporter for the Hyderabad-based TV news channel MunsifTV for recording video.
September 4, Kamran Yousuf, a freelance photojournalist working with a number of media houses including Greater Kashmir was arrested on suspicions of stone pelting and jailed in Delhi.
Sheikh Mushtaq, Jeelani Qadri, Morifat Qadri, Muzamil Jaleel and Yusuf Jameel helped proofread this list.
This list is being updated, please send the names that we have missed to [email protected]
Media and Human Rights: Journalist Covering Kashmir – A Conflict Zone, Lubna Rishi, 2015.
Kashmir’s media story, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
Shooting the Messenger, WithKashmir.org
On a Razor’s Edge: Local Journalists Targeted by Warring Parties in Kashmir
I’m A Photojournalist From Kashmir, And This Is My Story
How SDPO Sadder and his team assaulted and abused me
In Custody: Journalists Behind Bars
“My Arrest Was A Clear Case Of Revenge”: Kashmiri Journalist Speaks Up On Freedom Of Press
RSF condemns Kashmir media blackout by Indian authorities
All in a day’s work
Strict curfew silences media in Kashmir
Kashmiri journalist was held for 41 months without trial
Scirpted in Pain
The Valley’s media is being throttled. Giving rumours a free run of the conflict zone