SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) and the Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) on Tuesday strongly reacted to the new definition of a journalist detailed in the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency against jailed Kashmir photojournalist Kamran Yousuf.
“If the cops are supposed to define the roles and responsibilities of the journalists, which manage the fourth pillar of democracy, the universities that train thousands of journalists in a year across India must be locked,” the members said. “Re-defining journalism is usually been seen as an effort by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes and not democracies.”
KEG reiterated its stand on the Kamran Yousuf case that he has been a news photographer who was freelancing with various media outlets.
KEG spokesman Shafat Kira said the editors sought the photojournalist’s early release and have continuously insisted that Yousuf requires a fair trial.
It has been a long time since Yousuf’s arrest, and the investigators have probed almost all angles of his supposed involvement. So far, nothing has been proved as the charge sheet suggests, KEG said.
“It is high time that Yousuf is permitted to move out of jail and resume his routine and help his mother, the only relation he has, in surviving honourably,” the editors said. “His release will contribute to the strengthening of democracy and right to free speech.”
Meanwhile, the Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) has condemned the continuous incarceration of photojournalist Kamran Yousuf, saying he is being victimised only for carrying out his professional duties that somehow embarrassed the government.
The 23-year-old photojournalist has been held in detention for the last 169 days.
KWJA believes that Kamran’s arrest and framing are aimed only at muzzling the press in Kashmir and that all charges against him are baseless and motivated.
At the same time, the KWJA is also aghast at the efforts of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to define the working of a journalist. “The pathetic standards of journalism that NIA aims to thrust are not just childishly naive but also reflect a dangerous conspiracy to disempower the fourth estate,” said a statement issued here.
“We strongly contest NIA’s definition of journalism and affirm that it is not the job of a journalist to cover bridge inaugurations or birthday parties of government and political functionaries, and if NIA does not understand the basics that separate PR from journalism, it puts its own investigating capabilities into question,” it said adding, “NIA should desist from delivering lectures on journalism.”
The KWJA said it was also taking this moment to reflect on the larger tragedy of journalism in Kashmir exposed by the arrest of Kamran. “More than the government or investigation agencies, Kamran, a young journalist, has been failed by the fraternity, all of us together,” it added.
“Let us admit that the journalistic fraternity in Kashmir, including us, has failed to stand up for Kamran Yousuf since his arrest on September 5 last year, leave alone strive for his release.”
“While we expect owners of media channels and newspapers, who are primarily businessmen, to work for their selfish business interests, we expect more from journalists,” the KWJA said.