#JournalismIsNotACrime: Kashmir media bodies angry over IGP’s new diktat

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The media bodies in Kashmir on Wednesday expressed anguish over the new diktat by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, wherein he said on Tuesday that media persons should not come close to gunfight sites or “law and order” situations.

A statement in this regard was endorsed by Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK), Kashmir Editors 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).

Pertinently, reports quoted IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, as saying that “media persons should not come closer to encounter sites and law and order situations and they should not carry live coverage of these situations.

“The freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions. They should not violate other people’s right to guarantee life or put national security in jeopardy…no operational context should be carried which is likely to incite violence or which promotes anti-national sentiments,” the IGP said on Tuesday.

The IGP also said on Wednesday that he has issued written directions to all district SSPs to take “legal action based on fact” in case any media person comes closer to a gunfight site or a “law and order” situation.

“I have already issued written directions to all districts SSPs yesterday. District SSPs will take legal action on facts,” the IGP was quoted as having said by GNS.

When asked who comes under this advisory, IGP said it implies for both national as well as for local media outlets.

The media bodies said that the announcement attributed to the IGP has created anguish among the media fraternity.

They said that 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. Summoning journalists to police stations, filing FIRs and seeking informal explanations for their work has intensified in the past two years,” the statement reads.

“Journalists in Kashmir have worked under tremendous pressure for the past several decades and despite facing threats to life, liberty and property, they upheld the principles of journalism and reporting.

“The media in Kashmir are aware of the journalistic guidelines and ethics or situations like encounters, law and order situations and have always upheld these principles. Covering and reporting law and order situations in the region is one of the basic requirements for most news organisations and hence an essential part of the professional role of media professionals. Barring them from covering such events would mean stopping them from delivering their professional duties.”

“Press freedom is the cornerstone of a democracy and any attack on it undermines the democratic setup of which media is the fourth pillar. Any such attack on press freedom and journalism is highly distressful.”

The journalist bodies also urged the IGP to put the record straight and clarify the statement attributed to him. (KNO)


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