Kashmir Press Club (KPC), the Valley’s largest elected media body, Monday said the J&K Police is resorting to “intimidation”, “threats”, and “summons” to journalists in Kashmir and restricting their work since August 5.
After an urgent meeting which was attended by representatives of all journalist associations in Srinagar, the KPC said in a statement the “government is not enabling journalists and media to operate freely from the Valley since August 5”.
“This is evident from the prolonged six-month internet shutdown in the region since August 5. As if that was not enough, physical attacks, threats and summons to journalists are being employed by security agencies to intimidate journalists. In fact, the summons and harassment to journalists to Police’s counter-insurgency centre (Cargo) in Srinagar has become a routine exercise. The harassment and questioning of journalists in Kashmir on flimsy grounds by the J&K Police for their work is, in fact, a damning verdict on the appalling condition in which media is operating,” it said in a strongly-worded statement.
The statement said that “restrictions on internet” and “forcibly seeking undertakings from news organizations for allowing limited internet access, constant surveillance by police and physical attacks and summons all are the tools designed and aimed to ensure only government-promoted version is heard outside”.
“However, the meeting today made it clear that journalists are within their rights to report about the happenings from Kashmir impartially and truthfully,” the body said.
Asking the government to stop the practice of summons and attacks on journalists, the KPC issued details of the incidents who were subjected to harassment. “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,” the KPC statement said.
When contacted, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar told The Indian Express that journalists would be required to appear before the police when called.
The journalists summoned, questioned, held or roughed up by the police, according to KPC, include Irfan Amin Malik, Peerzada Ashiq of The Hindu, Muzamil Mattoo, a freelance photojournalist, Azaan Javaid of The Print, Anees Zargar of Newsclick,Bashaarat Masood of The Indian Express, Hakeem Irfan of The Economic Times), Safwat Zargar of Scroll, Naseer Ganai of Outlook and Haroon Nabi.
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