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India 5 June 2002

Assassination attempt against a journalist in Kashmir


According to doctors, Zafar Iqbal is out of danger, but might loose the use of his vocal cords. Kashmir Images director asserted to Reporters Sans Frontières that the authors of the attack have not been identified yet.


Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF-Reporters Without Borders) expressed its serious concern over the attempted murder of the journalist Zafar Iqbal in Srinagar. The organisation for the defence of press freedom has asked, in a letter sent today to the Chief Minister of the State of Kashmir, Dr Farooq Abdullah, for an investigation to be opened rapidly by the local police in order to identify the authors of this attempted murder. "In the present context of extreme tension in Kashmir it is more than urgent to get right to the bottom of this homicide, and its authors should not remain unpunished", declared Robert Ménard, General Secretary of the organisation.

According to the information gathered by RSF, Zafar Iqbal, a journalist at the independent English daily, Kashmir Images, was seriously injured by bullets on 29 May in his office in Srinagar (capital of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, north-west of the country). The young journalist, who only recently graduated, was writing an article when three individuals burst into his office asking for explanations about an article that appeared on the front page of the daily that very morning. They gave the journalist a paper to sign and when he was signing they opened fire three times against him. Zafar Iqbal, injured in the legs and in the face, lost an enormous amount of blood.  He was transported to the main hospital in Srinagar, where doctors stated that he has only a fifty per cent chance of surviving. The aggressors, whose arms were fitted with silencers, also damaged furniture and cut telephone wires in the journalist’s office.

On the morning of the aggression the front page of the Kashmir Images featured an article reporting on Indian soldiers aiding a family in distress.  The police and the editor of the daily refuse for the moment to make any comments on the reasons for this homicide. However, in view of the nature of the article it can be assumed that separatist armed groups could have understood it as being "pro-Indian" information.

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