'Media Operating in Appalling Conditions': Kashmir Journalists Express Concern over Policing

'Attempts by the police to surveil news organisations ensure that only reports that peddled a government-friendly narrative were disseminated.'

New Delhi: The Kashmir Press Club at a meeting on Monday expressed concern over recent instances of journalists in Kashmir being threatened, attacked and intimidated by J&K Police.

At the meeting, which was attended by all journalist bodies in Kashmir, the Kashmir Press Club asked the government to stop the practice of summoning journalists and muzzling free speech. Furthermore, it maintained that blaming the media and journalists in Kashmir for all problems was “misplaced”.

The members also noted that ever since the Centre read down Article 370, it stopped enabling journalists and media personnel to operate freely in the Valley and the prolonged internet shutdown had further hampered reporting by journalists.

The club also pointed out that such summons and harassment of journalists on weak pretexts by security agencies had become routine and was “a damning verdict on the appalling condition in which media is operating”.

Asserting that journalists had the right to report freely and impartially, the Kashmir Press Club held that the restrictions on journalists and attempts by the police to surveil news organisations were tools designed to ensure that only reports that peddled a government-friendly narrative were disseminated.

“Being the Fourth Estate, they said, the government should ensure freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in the constitution instead of muzzling the press. Viewing media as part of problem in Kashmir and blaming journalists for everything wrong is quite misplaced.”

Also read: Backstory: The Kashmir Model of Humiliating Journalists for Media Control

Journalists of the Club then went on to cite instances where journalists were harassed, summoned and restricted since the Centre scrapped Article 370 on August 5.

Irfan Amin Malik, who had been detained for a day after he was picked up from his house in Tral on August 14, was cited as one such example along with Peerzada Ashiq of The Hindu who had been questioned and pressurised to reveal the identity of his source.

The Club also noted that Azaan Javaid of The Print and Anees Zargar of Newsclick were beaten up by the police in Srinagar while covering a protest. Bashaarat Masood of the Indian Express and Safwat Zargar of Scroll were also stopped by the police and questioned about their reportage.

Outlook magazine’s Naseer Ganai, was also questioned at the counter-insurgency centre (Cargo) for reporting on a statement by the JKLF which stands banned by the government.