Journalists from South Kashmir held a protest demonstration at Press Colony on Thursday against the arrest of Kamran Yousuf by National Investigating Agency (NIA) in stone pelting related cases. Yousuf, a freelance photo journalist, used to cover every incident that took place in south Kashmir. Meanwhile, his family has denied that he was a stone pelter.
The protesting journalists carried banners of “Kamran Yusuf is a Journalist, not a stone pelter”, “Free Kamran Yousuf”, “Fair Journalism persecuted in Kashmir by NIA” and demanded his release.
“Kamran was working as a freelance journalist for three years and was associated with several news organizations. He was the first to report news from south Kashmir,” said Shah Irshad, also a journalist from south Kashmir. “At times even police in south Kashmir had to react to his news stories which would appear on local TV channels and other media platforms,” Shah added.
Shah said that the arrested journalist was the first to reach any spot whether it was an encounter or a stone pelting incident. His passion for journalism was such that he would travel even at night to cover any incident.
Another journalist told The Indian Express that Kamran was first contacted by police in Pulwama. “He was asked to come to the police station for questioning regarding stone pelting incidents. He immediately rushed to the police station,” he said adding that at the time Yousuf spoke to the him on Monday evening, the photo journalist had no fear of any questioning, he was repeatedly saying that he had not done anything wrong. Initially, we were told that he will be kept at the police station but next day he was handed over to NIA.
“He has no criminal record and was always passionate about doing his job. Till yesterday evening his mother was not informed that Kamran was arrested by NIA. Everyone came to know about his arrest through media,” says his cousin Khurshid Ahmad.
“Kamran is innocent. There was no stone pelting case registered against him as well, which can be checked from the local police station,” says Irshad Ahmad maternal uncle of Yousuf. “We don’t know what to do next, and whom to approach now. We even don’t know what NIA is. Everyone is worried for his safety.”
NIA on Tuesday had said that Yusuf is wanted in several incidents of stone pelting in south Kashmir. This is the first time the NIA has arrested people allegedly involved in stone-pelting incidents.