Zuma Press photographer Narcisco Contreras of Mexico and freelance photographer Showkat Shafi of India were beaten by police and government forces, then arrested while covering a violent street protest in Srinigar, Kashmir on August 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports.
Shafi, who has shot for Al Jazeera online and Reuters, reported that he and Contreras were covering a clash between youth protesting Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir when police and soldiers charged the crowd, beating protesters and the photographers. “We were covering the protests, standing on the side of the demonstrators, when the police charged the protesters … we were verbally abused and beaten with bamboo sticks and batons,” he told Al Jazeera.
Contreras said he tried to take shelter in a tailor’s shop. “The soldiers descended there and started beating everyone, including me.”
The photographers were then taken to a police station, along with protesters; according to the photographers and eyewitnesses, they were held for hours. The two have reported that they were beaten while in police custody. Contreras told Al Jazeera, “I repeatedly told them I’m a foreign journalist, but they continued beating me as if I was some criminal,” he said. A police officer told Al Jazeera that the two photographers were released after they showed their press credentials, and denied that they were beaten.
Responding to reports that the photographers had been beaten, Farooq Khan, president of the Kashmir Press Photographers Association, told Al Jazeera, “Let’s remember that incidents like these have become a routine here.”