Masrat Zahra is a woman photojournalist from Kashmir working with The Quint and Rising Kashmir news outlets. She has been working in the field for two years and her work has been commissioned on international publication Getty images and others.
Recently, a picture was circulated on the social media, while she was covering a gunfight between the Indian Armed Forces and the combatants. Her picture covering the intense moments on April 1st in Shopian district was circulated on the social media as an Indian Army informer. The picture was taken from her own social media account, when she had posted it on 15th May
Later her picture was soon shared by multiple social media pages with a flurry of verbal abuses and accusations.
“While coming back, I got to know that militants were trapped in Shopian. I left for the spot from the Press Enclave, Srinagar. At the gunfight site, locals gathered around me. I was told that we go to the gunfight sites to earn money. They asked me to go home,” she said, adding that they were stuck between the army and the protestors. That was when she had started clicking pictures and a fellow photojournalist captured the moment.
According to her statement, she was injured after the house of the gunfight was burnt down. “We were asked to run for cover. As soon as I moved back, my foot slipped and I crashed. My trousers tore off and my knees bled. Also, another journalist fell on my shoulder and the joint dislocated,” With her dislocated arm she still went to Shopian’s Eidgah for covering the funeral of slain combatant Zubair Turray.
On May 15, while she was going through her photo gallery she came across the picture clicked by her fellow photo-journalist. Subsequently, she shared the picture on Facebook.
“In no time someone commented on the picture. I was labeled as an informer (Mukhbir),” she said
“People shared it without checking facts or going through my profile as to who I am. Meanwhile, support started to pour in for Zahra from prominent journalists and other personalities including Yousuf Jameel, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, and Khurram Parvez.
Senior journalist and editor of the Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari wrote on Facebook: “Some of the friends on Facebook (they proved to be FB friends only) who are showing concern over the ordeal our young photojournalist Masrat Zahra is going through must realise that they are also responsible for promoting this kind of ‘futwa baazi’ by these unscrupulous elements. Some of them hide behind fake accounts but will be exposed one day and face Allah’s wrath. Please don’t shed tears now. One can see how you have been promoting such morons. But I stand with Masrat Zehra and strongly condemn the malicious campaign on social media,” he said, describing her as a “genuine journalist.”