Ground Report | New Delhi: Who is Saleem Pandit; Journalists in Kashmir expressed displeasure over the “illegal and arbitrary” takeover of the Kashmir Press Club by some journalists including Saleem Pandit with open support from the local administration and Police.
On January 15, the day when the administration had declared weekend lockdown in view of the Covid surge, a group of journalists barged into the club office and forcibly took control of the club by keeping the office members hostage. A large number of police and paramilitary personnel were deployed beforehand for this highly condemnable and completely illegal move.
On 29 December, the reregistration was finally issued following that the Club decided to initiate the process of fresh elections and also announced the date. But all of a sudden a group of journalists, including some nonmembers, approached the district administration with a proposal for an “interim body” and it is followed by a communication from the government that the re-registration has been kept in abeyance.
This move, in which a group of journalists self-appointed itself as an “interim body,” is uncivil, illegal, unconstitutional and without any precedence. It has been taken at a time when the process of registration is still pending before the authorities, the statement said.
Saleem Pandit is the Assistant Editor of The Times of India. He was instrumental in helping to establish the club – an organization that journalists have been demanding since at least 2003 – and was also its first interim president.
However, he and his allies lost the election in 2019. During the meeting, his aides termed the previous elections as “not free and fair”.
In November 2019, after a news report labeled Kashmiri journalists as “jihadi journalists”, the press club membership of Pandit was canceled for “insulting” the club.