SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Working Journalist Association and the Kashmir Journalist Association on Saturday protested the summoning of Srinagar-based journalist Aqib Javed Hakim by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) to New Delhi. A joint statement from the associations appealed Governor NN Vohra to intervene in the matter. The associations said they would stop working en-masse in protest if state agencies do not stop “intimidation and harassment of Kashmiri journalists”.
Aqib, an accredited journalist working with the daily Kashmir Observer, has been summoned by NIA apparently for a story he reported, the journalists’ associations said.
“The summoning reflects the high-handed approach of the federal agency to ascribe motive to journalists’ professional work, and summon them like criminals,” the associations said in their statement.
“It is also highly regrettable that Aqib has been summoned, out of station, at a very short notice, without giving a damn to how he manages to do it,” they added.
They said the NIA’s ham-handed approach towards journalism has earlier also been exposed in its detention of Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yousuf last year, in whose case the NIA even tried to define journalism by its own skewed standards.
“Like in rest of India, journalists in Kashmir are coming under unwarranted threats and scrutiny, from both state and non-state players. It is no surprise that India has dipped on the press freedom index, prompting global watchdog RSF to issue an incident report on India,” the journalists’ bodies said. “It would be in the national interest for the federal authorities, as well as J&K, to improve their record for press freedom, rather than resort to authoritative measures that further malign the image of the country,” they said.
The latest summons, they said, seems to be part of a “larger conspiracy to muzzle press freedom in Kashmir and terrorise” its journalist fraternity.
“The journalist fraternity in Kashmir cannot take the act lying down, and is watching the developments keenly,” they said.