Ground Report | New Delhi: Press Council forms panel; The Press Council of India (PCI) has constituted a three-member fact-finding committee to probe threats and harassment of journalists in Kashmir.The PCI has taken this step after a letter written by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti regarding this matter. Mufti raised the issue of harassment of journalists by the administration in Kashmir.
Press Council forms panel
The committee constituted by the Press Council of India includes Prakash Dubey, group editor and convener of Dainik Bhaskar, Gurbir Singh, journalist of The New Indian Express and Dr. Suman Gupta, editor of Jan Morcha.
The apex media body PCI has requested the Jammu and Kashmir administration to extend its full cooperation to the fact-finding team. The council said that the task of this committee is to talk to the affected journalists of Kashmir and all the stakeholders concerned and submit the report at the earliest. The fact-finding committee will prepare its own procedure and investigate the matter.
It is to be known that alleging harassment of journalists in the Kashmir Valley, former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had written a letter to the Press Council of India, demanding that an independent fact-finding team be sent to Jammu and Kashmir.
She had said, ‘We have seen how the fundamental rights like freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Indian Constitution have been increasingly attacked, especially in the last two years by a hostile and insecure government.’
Unnecessary harassment of journalists
Mehbooba Mufti further said, ‘Unnecessary harassment of journalists has become a rule. They are being harassed by the CID by raiding their houses, summoning and interrogating them on trivial grounds like frivolous tweets, background checking of journalists and their family members. This policy is being implemented by taking away other facilities including accommodation, confiscation of mobile phones, laptops, passports, ATM cards etc. from some senior journalists.
Mufti also wrote in her letter that how Kashmiri journalists are being stopped from going abroad and they are being called in the name of look-out circular.
A few days back, the Jammu and Kashmir Police raided the house of four journalists, including a senior editor, and detained them for a day at a police station in Srinagar. This action was taken by the police in connection with a case registered last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act i.e. stringent UAPA.
The case was registered against unidentified persons running a blog named Kashmirfight.wordpress.com (kashmirfight.wordpress.com) who allegedly killed Kashmiri journalists and political activists, accusing them of being “supporters of the central government”.
India is ranked 142 out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The RSF is the world’s largest NGO, specializing in protecting media freedom, which is considered a fundamental human right to stay informed and inform others.