Two days ago, freelance photojournalist Kamran Yusuf was among those arrested by India’s National Investigative Agency. From the early part of this year, NIA has been conducting raids on Kashmiri resistance leadership and their cadre. It has also made arrests of businessmen who are alleged to have links with the resistance leadership. This time Kamran Yusuf, a photojournalist whose work has appeared in local Kashmiri newspapers and international publications as well.
Last year, Kashmir’s newspapers were banned by the Indian authorities in Kashmir. Among them, the newspaper Kashmir Reader was banned for months together, for their reportage of incidents that happened in bloody summer of 2016. This led to the formation of Kashmir Editors’ Guild, established to create a new union of prominent editors of Kashmir’s newspapers. The daily Kashmir Reader was supported by KEG and it received tremendous solidarity from the people.
While in the case of the young photojournalist Kamran Yusuf, there has hardly been a statement from KEG. The newspaper Greater Kashmir that has frequently featured Yusuf’s work has not issued a statement at all. Certain sources and social media commentary has suggest that Yusuf was a freelancer and hence has been thrown under the bus. Is that to save the corporation from unwanted attention of the NIA, there’s no word on it.
Kamran Yusuf has done some significant work while risking his life during his reporting stints. He has been one of the first photojournalists to cover funerals of armed fighters and protest demonstrations in some of the most hostile areas of the region. While news-organisations were non-hesitant to use his work during those times, they have preferred a radio silence on his detention.
A few years ago, Al Jazeera and later VICE News’s journalists and stingers were detained by various governments. Instead of leaving the journalists to their fate, they stood by them. In fact, it was only due to the pressure created by the news-organisations, the journalists were later freed by the authorities.
A demonstration was called by to protest Yousuf’s detention was attended by very few people at the Press colony in Srinagar. Most of the protesters being his friends from his hometown Pulwama. In fact the organisation that he has extensively worked for did not show up.
This is a shameful silence of Kashmir’s media over his detention. The journalist community must stand together in complete solidarity because journalism is not a crime.
Some of the exceptional photographs that Kamran clicked.
In August 2017, Yousuf was named among 9 emerging photojournalists from Kashmir in this blog.
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