In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, media bodies have unanimously voiced concern over the statement of the Inspector General of Police, asking media persons not to come closer to the sites of cordon and search operations (CASOs) and conduct the coverage of such situations.
Soon after a cordon and search operation on Tuesday night in Srinagar’s Gulab Bagh area, a statement issued through two local news agencies quoted the IGP of Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, saying that the media persons should not come closer to such sites and they should not carry live coverage of these situations.
A statement jointly issued by 12 media bodies in IIOJK said the top cop’s diktat has caused anguish among the media fraternity.
The statement was jointly issued by Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK), Kashmir Editor’s Guild (KEG), Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA), Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA), Kashmir News Television Journalist Association (KNTJA), Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA), Kashmir Press Club (KPC), Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA), Anjuman Urdu Sahafat, Kashmir Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Jammu and Kashmir Press Association (JKPA) and JK Editors Forum (JKEF).
The statement said if this is a part of the official policy of police then it appears to be a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground.
It also seems to be a part of the string of measures taken by the authorities to suppress freedom of press in the region, it added.
Noting the situation in which journalists are working in the territory for last several decades, the media bodies said, despite facing threats to life, liberty and property, they upheld the principles of journalism and reporting.
They said that the media in Kashmir are aware of the journalistic guidelines and ethics or situations like CASOs, law and order situations and have always upheld these principles.
The media bodies said the press freedom is the cornerstone of a democracy and any attack on it undermines the democratic set-up of which media is the fourth pillar.
“Any such attack on press freedom and journalism is highly distressful,” they said, urging the IGP Kashmir to put the record straight and clarify the statement attributed to him.
Meanwhile, the IGP, Vijay Kumar talking to media men in Srinagar said, he has issued written directions to all district SSPs to take legal action in case any media person comes closer to the site of CASO or such situation.
When asked who comes under this Advisory, he said, it implies for all media outlets.
Earlier on Tuesday he said that the media persons should not carry any live coverage of any CASO or other such situation.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of International Forum For Justice and Human Rights, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo in a statement in Srinagar castigated the Kashmir Police Chief, Vijay Kumar for issuing a diktat to the media in the territory, asking them not to report about the gunfights and the law and order situation.
He noted that the government had already stopped enabling journalists and media persons to operate freely in the Valley and now the diktat issued by the IGP tantamount to direct interference in the freedom of press in IIOJK.
He said that the latest statement by the IGP testifies the appalling operative conditions of media in Kashmir.
Reiterating that the media had the right to report freely and impartially, Untoo said that the attempts by police to coerce media was to ensure that the facts on the ground do not come out and only reports that the government wants to peddle is disseminated.
Untoo said, media is the fourth pillar of democracy and the administration should ensure freedom of press instead of muzzling it.—KMS