The Erosion of Journalism Freedom in IIOJK | By Muhammad Ibrahim Nadeem

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The Erosion of Journalism Freedom in IIOJK

The term “Journalism” is also referred to as “The Fourth Estate”, which was once used to exclusively describe the press, but now includes all the branches of the news media such as mass media, traditional media, and the digital media.

Journalism can be deemed as one of the pillars upon which the very foundation of a society is built, along with the government, legislation, and judiciary being the other pillars altogether playing a vital role in the socio-economic development of the society.

In a tyranny free world today, where the freedom of democracy assures journalism the autonomy to bring-forth the truth among the masses, there are still some regions in the world where journalism is being extremely suppressed in its efforts to bring forward the truth, such as the suppression and harassment of the journalists who are diligently working to bring to light the atrocities committed by the Indian armed forces in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK).

The suppression of the journalism in IIOJK, planned and implemented under the policies designed by high command in New Delhi, has been so brutal and oppressing, that many experienced have left the profession out of fear for their life, while the youth in the respective field of work are either forced to manipulate the narrative according to the New Delhi’s whishes which are far from the reality, or suffer the consequences in the form of harassment through police arrests and interrogations.

The oppression on the journalist escalated dramatically after the abrogation of article 370, illegally eradicating the special status of the Kashmir dominion, which resulted in mass protests throughout the region, the largest internet blackout in the modern world, and the crackdown on journalists highlighting the Indian brutalities in the region under the new policies coming directly from the New Delhi.

A number of Kashmiri journalists have been recently arrested including Fahad Shah, the editor of news outlet Kashmir Walla, the Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, and Sajad Gul, a trainee reporter for the Kashmir Walla, and many more who have been kept hidden from the mass media.

Fahd Shah is the name among many journalists who have been a victim to the forbidden pattern of “Arrest, Bail, and Rearrest”.

Fahad Shah, 33 years old, just hours after being granted a bail by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court was arrested again in another case registered in a police station in Sophian District.

As the family and friends of Shah were waiting outside the police station being granted a bail, their hopes were shattered when the police informed them that he was arrested in another case.

Another Kashmiri journalist, Aasif Sultan had been held in jail, awaiting a trial by the court for almost 4 years was granted a bail by the courts in early 2022.

Just when he thought that he could finally return home to his awaiting wife and his daughter who was just 6 months old at the time of his arrest, his hopes were shattered again by the Indian authorities rearrested him levying similar charges under a different law and moved him to a different jail.

Sajad Gul, a trainee reporter for The Kashmir Walla and a freelance journalist has been constantly under the mental torture of police raids, threats and harassing interrogations in IIOJK.

The struggle started for Gul when he wrote the story about a family whose innocent son was killed during a gunfight between the police and freedom fighters.

Since then he is being threatened about going to jail along with constant raids and torturing interrogations.

In the past, Khurram Pervez, a HR activist and program coordinator of rights group, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has been arrested in IIOJK.

The arrest was a direct counter to his efforts to highlight the violations of human rights in IIOJK by Indian armed forces.

Pervez’s arrest came as the IIOJK was in midst of some of most widespread anti-India protests in recent years

The brutalities against the freedom of Journalism in IIOJK does not stops at the police harassment, but goes further to murders of highly vocal local Kashmiri journalists by the Indian armed forces.

Shujaat Bukhari was a Kashmiri journalist and the founding editor of Rising Kashmir, a Srinagar based newspaper.

He was instrumental in organizing several Kashmir peace conferences and was a part of the Track II diplomacy between India and Pakistan.

Between 1997 and 2012, he was a correspondent for the Hindu in Srinagar. He was shot dead outside his office in the Press Enclave area of Srinagar on 14th June 2018 by Indian forces for writing on human rights.

Despite the fact that the Modi regime is suppressing Kashmiri voices in IIOJK, Kashmiri Journalists are internationally getting the recognition for their efforts in bringing the truth to light.

The Human Rights and Religious Freedom Journalism Award (HRRFJA) are organized by a Washington DC based advocacy group named Indian American Muslim Council.

Two Kashmiri Journalists won the HRRFJA award. Syed Shahriyar received the award for the “Best Photo Story on Human Rights and Religious Freedom”, while Shahid Tantray won the award for the “Best Video Story on Human Rights and Religious Freedom”.

He shared the award with The News Minute’s Priyanka Thirumurthy.

However, the Indian authority’sviciousness for the erosion of journalism freedom in IIOJK exposes the truth that the fascist Modi government would not accept the achievements of Kashmiri journalists, and penalize them in return, in not now but in the near future.

[The writer is Islamabad based researcher with interest in international relations, regional affairs and geo politics.

The author can be contacted at [email protected]]

 

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