Srinagar: Days after the Directorate of Information and Public Relations in central Kashmir’s Budgam district decided that it will limit and regulate journalists covering official functions to “maintain discipline” and restrict the asking of “irrelevant questions,” several Indian and International press bodies have condemned the restrictions on press.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and the National Union of Journalists- India (NUJ-I) has condemned the restrictions and conditions imposed on journalists reporting on official issues and reiterate the imperative for press freedom and independence.
Earlier this week, the Budgam District Information Officer (DIO) Tajamul Yousuf had announced the government would ban particular journalists from entering the union minister’s program, alleging they were attempting to tarnish his image by asking ‘irrelevant questions’.
The officer said journalists who are not on the blacklist would be allowed to continue covering official functions.
The district administration, however, has not publicised the journalists’ names on the so-called prohibition list, IFJ wrote in its press release.
The IFJ has documented similar censorship in the Kupwara district.
On July 24, the district magistrate of Kupwara issued an order instructing journalists to complete a registration process to be eligible to report from the field. Those journalists who did not complete the registration were barred from reporting.
According to the IFJ’s South Asia Press Freedom Report 2020-21, ‘Truth in a time of Contagion: The Viral Frontline’, Jammu and Kashmir journalists have been increasingly targeted since the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir in the year 2019.
Pertinent to mention here that Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan has been imprisoned since last three years and various other journalists have faced charges like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The IFJ said that “barring journalists from participating in the public function is a serious form of censorship and a violation of constitutionally enshrined freedom of press and expression. The IFJ urges the Budgam administration to remove the restriction and allow all journalists to report freely and independently.”