‘Calcuclated and sustained attacks on media in J&K, poodle press only form govt willing to tolerate’
Srinagar: The Press Club of India on Thursday said that it is “dismayed to note that the UT administration of Jammu and Kashmir has continued with its calculated and sustained attacks on the media in the UT, and its efforts to efface the cause of press freedom, without which any claims to democracy become dubious.”
In a statement, the PCI said that “the latest instance of wielding the rod against independent sections of the media has come in the shape of the administration sealing the office of the prestigious daily Kashmir Times’ Srinagar Bureau, in the Press Enclave in J&K’s summer capital.”
“This reeks of pettiness and vindictiveness. Not long ago, the administration first “raided” and then seized the residence of Ms Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of the newspaper, along with all belongings,” the PCI said.
“Kashmir Times and Ms. Bhasin personally have attracted the ire of the authorities because she showed the gumption to challenge in the Supreme Court the circumstances – in particular the closure of the internet and curfews, both of which made journalism impossible – that flowed from the deeply troubling decision taken by the Government of India on August 5 last year,” it said.
“The actions of the militaristic regime in both instances are dictatorial, unconstitutional, without due process. These give the impression to a neutral observer that the very idea of the rule of law has fled JK since 5 August, 2019, when the constitutional autonomy was taken away-again without due process.
“The day the top court was moved with a view to defending press freedoms, the UT administration withdrew all government advertising to Kashmir Times. The message could not be more clear – that it was necessary to back the government’s actions in order to qualify to receive government advertisements. It was clear that a poodle press is the only form of media the government was willing to tolerate,” it said.
“Intimidation is writ large on the government actions in relation to Kashmir Times and its editor. This was a major institution in J&K that practised objective journalism instead of cosying up to the government. This made it an eyesore to the authorities who have built a track record of routinely harassing, intimidating, and interrogating journalists,” the press body said.