A Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yousuf arrested by India’s National Investigation Agency is among record number of journalists imprisoned for their work in 2017 for the second year in a row. More than half the these journalists are from Turkey, China and Egypt, as per a report published by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday.
The report by the New York-based non-profit also names India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, adding that the pattern reflects a dismal failure by the international community to address a global crisis in freedom of the press.
In its annual prison census, CPJ found 262 journalists were behind bars around the world for doing their work – a new record after a historical high of 259 last year.
Kamran Yousuf from Kashmir and Vinod Verma from Chattisgarh figured on the list of journalists detained worldlwide . Yousuf, a 23-year-old freelance photojournalist and regular contributor to Kashmir’s prominent English daily Greater Kashmir, was arrested by the NIA on charges of stone-pelting in September. Verma was arrested in Ghaziabad in October for allegedly blackmailing a Chhattisgarh BJP leader with a ‘sex CD’. Verma denied the charge and said he was being framed.
In September, CPJ had demanded that “Indian authorities should immediately release Kamran Yousuf, a freelance photojournalist who was working in the Jammu and Kashmir region and has been held without charge since September 4.”
Yousuf “was a headache for the local police and politicians, reporting every small detail, and (he) put pressure on (local authorities),” CPJ had said in a statement quoting a report published in Scroll.com.
“Indian authorities must stop trying to crush the independent press in the Jammu and Kashmir region,” CPJ’s Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said from New York.
India ranks 13th on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free. In 2017, India ranked at an abysmal low of 136 in the World Press Freedom Index.
Among other countries in South Asia, the CPJ list features two jailed journalists from Pakistan, four in Bangladesh.
(Featured photo: Kamran Yousuf/ Freepresskashmir.com)