Crude attempt to stifle press freedom: Kashmir Press Club on J&K govt’s gag order

Srinagar : The Kashmir Press Club has taken a serious note of the attempts by authorities to throttle information related to coronavirus infections in the valley amid the unprecedented lockdown across the region.
Highlighting a recent gag order issued by Director Health Services, Kashmir ordering doctors and paramedics not to share information with media about the ongoing crisis, a statement issued by the KPC management said that stopping information flow amid the unprecedented situation was highly condemnable.
It said that putting out information during pandemic through authentic print and electronic media is of vital importance as it helps to stop flow of unverified information and rumours.

The club termed the gag order “nothing but a crude attempt at further stifling the freedom of the press in the region”.

It said that Kashmir media has been playing its role responsibly by highlighting lack of facilities and protective gears for frontline health workers-doctors and paramedics-to ensure gaps are filled in dealing with the virus, which has consumed two lives so far in the region.

The KPC expected the concerned government authorities to exchange information related to coronavirus crisis with media and journalists with more vigor as only free and transparent flow of information would facilitate an objective and accurate body of work by the journalists.

The KPC further said that it stands in support of the recent statement of Editors Guild of India wherein it has detested the attempts by the government to put a gag on media as far as reporting the Coronavirus crisis is concerned.

Reiterating its stand, the KPC said that ”no democracy anywhere in the world is fighting this pandemic by gagging its media.”

The KPC has also urged the authorities concerned that they should facilitate the movement of journalists and media workers during the lockdown period to allow them unhindered access as the newspapers have already been categories as an essential service by the government.

The club also condemned a recent incident wherein a reporter in Kulgam Umaisar Gul was thrashed by the security personnel when he was returning from Qazigund hospital in south Kashmir on March 30, 2020 and has demanded action against the culprits involved in this incident.

The statement has also urged its journalist members and media workers to take extreme precautions while reporting on coronavirus crisis in view of the guidelines issued by global health bodies.

The KPC has reiteratesld that media needs to be more responsible in this crisis but it also needed a free and fair environment to report.

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