In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, journalists bodies have strongly denounced the sealing of the office of leading English daily, Kashmir Times, by the authorities.
The Delhi-run Estates Department sealed the office of Kashmir Times at Press Enclave in the city on Monday without giving any reason for the action. Earlier, the authorities sealed the office of a local news gathering agency, Kashmir News Service (KNS), in Srinagar.
The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) in a statement in Srinagar said, it sees the sealing as the continuation of an abnormality being enforced on Kashmir media for a long time especially since 2010.
It said that in the last 10 years, the successive Indian regimes had created a very unpleasant history as for as operations of the media in IIOJK was concerned. “Preventing circulation of newspapers, blacklisting the newspapers from getting government advertisements in Srinagar and Delhi, and interrupting negatively in the routine operations have adversely impacted the media. These are in addition to the issues that reporters face on a daily basis while gathering information,” it said.
The Guild called upon the administration to unseal the premises from which Kashmir Times and KNS offices were operating from.
General Secretary of the Kashmir Press Club, Ishfaq Tantry, in an interview said, “The move is highly condemnable. The government should reverse it and ensure an enabling atmosphere for the press in Jammu and Kashmir free from fear and coercion.”
New York-based media watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists, in a statement said, “We condemn the ongoing targeting and harassment of Anuradha Bhasin and Kashmir Times. Authorities must stop trying to silence independent and critical voices and should respect press freedom.”
Reporters without Borders (RSF) in a statement in Paris termed the action against the Kashmir Times as an attack on press freedom in IIOJK.
On the other hand, several noted Kashmiri journalists have come forward to do their bit for the Kashmir Times newspaper, which is under attack from the Indian government for moving the Indian Supreme Court against media restrictions in IIOJK after the Modi government abrogated special status of the territory in August last year. The journalists have offered their professional services for free as their small contribution to the embattled newspaper.
“In solidarity with Anuradha Bhasin, journalists offer their professional service free,” wrote senior journalist, Hilal Mir, on Facebook to announce the collective support for Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin.
Along with Hilal Mir, there are at least eleven other journalists who have volunteered for the work. They include Najeeb Mubaraki, Gowhar Geelani, Tariq Mir, Majid Maqbool, Samaan Lateef, Athar Parvaiz, Nayeem Rathar, Shams Irfan, Riyaz Wani and Naseer A Ganai.—KMS