In a surprise move, the department of Information and Public Relation in Jammu-Kashmir Monday restricted access for journalists, including members of the foreign press, to the Media Facilitation Centre (MFC) setup in Sarovar Portico hotel in Srinagar. Only journalists accredited by the state government are being allowed into the centre. The move was later withdrawn following the intervention of the Kashmir Press Club and senior journalists.
Director, Information, J&K, Sherish Asgar said: “Yes, we have done this following some complaints of misuse.”
Security officials deputed at the MFC told The Indian Express that they have received instructions from the government to allow only those journalists who are accredited with the government of Jammu and Kashmir. “We have been given a list of names and only those journalist will be allowed,” said an official.
In the morning, entry for all non- accredited journalists, including journalists from New Delhi, was restricted. A non-local journalist working for a national television channel showed his PIB card to the security officials at MFC, but he was not allowed to enter.
Delhi-based journalists working for foreign media too were not allowed access on Monday morning. “How can this happen. I have an accreditation card from New Delhi,” a journalist working for foreign media was heard telling the security persons.
Earlier today in the Supreme Court, the Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that all Kashmir-based newspapers are running and the government has been offering all kinds of assistance to journalists in the state.
“Media passes are given for access to restricted areas and journalists are given access to phones and Internet,” adding that “TV channels like Doordarshan and others private ones, as well as FM networks are also working.”
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer was hearing a petition by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin, who said she was not able to publish her newspaper from Srinagar as communication was “crippled” after the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370. Bhasin had said that even a month after the restrictions were imposed, she was still facing difficulties.
With the communication clampdown still in place in most parts of Kashmir, journalist have been using the centre’s internet facilities to file stories.