By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir Police, which has been often in news for press freedom violation, has once again raked a controversy after one of its police officer harassed and humiliated a Jammu-based journalist for keeping a beard.
Syed Junaid Hashmi, who works as a sub-editor for a Jammu-based newspaper Early Times, was on his way to his in-laws residence when the incident occurred in Udhampur’s Adarsh Colony.
“It was around 4 in the evening on November 11. I was about to enter inside when someone called me from behind ‘Oye, Idhar dekh’ (Hey, Look here)’. Police personnel, led by SHO Arjun Singh, caught hold of me and began inquiring about me: who I was, from where I had come and what was I doing in Udhampur on the eve of Diwali,” Hashmi told TwoCircles.net.
Hashmi says that the language of the police officer was derogatory, and he treated him like a potential threat due to his beard.
“I told him that I am a journalist. He asked for my Press card. Since I had kept that in my bag, I showed him the driving license which is valid all over the country and accepted as identity card all over the country. The concerned Police officer pointed out that it was driving license and not the identity card. He kept asking me for identity card,” Hashmi explained.
“When I firmly told him that I have produced the identity card and there was no need to show him another one, the officer said ‘Daari rakhtey ho, to Identity Card bhi rakh liya karo’ (If you keep a beard, you must also keep your ID card) which was both humiliating and abusive,” he alleged.
Hashmi has already emailed a written complaint of the incident to Chief Ministers Office and to the Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur.
A week after submitting the complaint, no action has been initiated against the accused officer. When contacted, Sulaiman Choudhary, Senior Superintendent of Police, Udhampur, denied the allegations. “Our Police was on a regular patrol in the area on that day due to Diwali. I have enquired on my end with my sub ordinates who say that there was no issue of humiliation and they had just asked him for his ID card. The matter is still under the enquiry. Action will be taken if officer is proven guilty, he told TwoCircles.net.
Meanwhile, Hashmi says that the police officers are cooking up a story to ensure they are not hold accountable for their acts of omission and commission.
“Immediately after the incident I had made a call to Choudhary briefing him about the incident and seeking his intervention. But unfortunately, it seems that he is shielding the accused,” he added.