Withdraw cases against journalists: KWJA

SRINAGAR: Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) has noted with dismay that despite pleas for an enabling environment for media, J&K Police has not withdrawn its latest cases against three journalists in Kashmir.
In a statement issued in Friday, KWJA condemned the “continued harassment of journalists in Kashmir at the hands of police” while reiterating demand that cases against journalists Gowhar Geelani, Masrat Zehra and Peerzada Ashiq be withdrawn immediately.
The KWJA said that it was “surprised at the laughable claims of respect for press freedom from some officials” in Jammu and Kashmir, in an apparent reference to IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar’s recent statement that police had the “highest regards for freedom of press”.
The KWJA said on the contrary, a “systemic repression of media houses and arm twisting of journalists has by now been entrenched as a governance policy to curtail the larger freedoms and rights of people”.
“It is ironical that such claims were made in the same statement that disdainfully referred to a well worked on news report as “fake news” and bragged about making some journalists apologize inside a police station, “ the statement said.
The KWJA further alleged that the pattern of summoning journalists to police stations, seeking explanations about their professional work and intimidating them with the first information reports (FIRs) was going on since August last year.
It said the cases against journalists Peerzada Ashiq, Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani were aimed only at muzzling the press in Kashmir and that all charges against them are motivated.
The statement said that for a vibrant press to flourish in a society, authorities needed to move beyond “hollow claims of respect for press freedom and work towards a conducive environment where a journalist can report the facts on ground and /or express his opinion on social media without

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