SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) on Wednesday asked the visiting team of Press Council of India (PCI) to utilise its resources and issue a detailed report about the journalists killed in Kashmir during the past 30 years.
Demanding that the killers of Shujaat Bukhari be brought to justice, the KEG said that wreath-laying ceremonies and glowing tributes to murdered journalists in Kashmir will not help. It asked the PCI to issue a detailed report about every single murder of a journalist in Kashmir, starting with the assassination of Shujaat. “The report must offer some sort of detail about why they were killed,” the KEG said to the PCI.
The editors’ guild said that when a journalist is killed in Kashmir, there are condemnations and obituaries coming from all sides, and it stops at that. “Though in all the murders the police did register cases, but not in a single case does the media fraternity know the follow-up, as the cases are closed and forgotten,” the KEG said.
It said that while everybody is genuinely concerned now over why a prominent editor was gunned down, the appreciation was lacking when Shujaat was seeking his rights before policymakers in Delhi after DAVP stopped advertisements to his paper, Rising Kashmir.
The KEG, however, appreciated the PCI for being responsive to the first such killing since 1990. It said Kashmir has lost 14 journalists and in Jammu one photographer has been killed.
The Kashmir editors told the PCI team comprising Prabhat Dass, Prof Sushma Yadav and Ashok Upadhyay that there was dire need for engagement between PCI and journalists who are walking on a razor’s edge almost on daily basis in Kashmir. The bigger crisis, they said, was to ensure that the media in Kashmir survives with its credibility intact in wake of massive propaganda by the state apparatus and faceless individuals operating in the shady corners of internet.
Tragically, they said, the PCI’s engagement with the media in Kashmir has three milestones so far: the first was when a group of editors were flown to Srinagar to rebut the reportage on the Kunan-Poshpora mass rapes by the army; the report that three members of the PCI jotted down overnight was a decree against the Srinagar press corps and was used as a key document by the state in Srinagar and Delhi against the Kashmir media, the KEG said.
The editors reiterated that they had already stated the same in their earlier interactions with the PCI in 2017. They demanded that the PCI either re-investigate the Kunan-Poshpora case and absolve the Kashmir media of its alleged bias in reportage of the incident, or withdraw the report.
The second major engagement with the PCI was in 2017, when a PCI team visited Srinagar. The objective of the prolonged visit was to investigate a few observations made by the Interlocutors on Kashmir – Dileep Padgoanker, Radha Kumar, and MM Ansari – about the conduct of the Kashmir media, including the funding of media, alleged exaggerated circulation figures, and other matters. The KEG remarked that it was interesting that while the Government of India binned the interlocutors’ report, the PCI found it as its top priority to investigate the observations.
Nevertheless, the KEG said it was thankful that the interlocutors’ report was made public and later in 2017 the PCI investigated its observations and reduced the weight of blatantly unsubstantiated allegations against Kashmir media.
The third engagement was now, when the three-member PCI team was visiting the state to investigate how and why Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated. On the assassination, the KEG said, they know as much as the police have revealed.
Admitting that the media in Kashmir was in dire straits, the PCI team said they will be quick to address the issues. They asked Srinagar media to strongly react to efforts by police or any other security agency that are aimed at interrupting news gathering and dissemination. The PCI team said they will act strongly on issues as and when they reach PCI.