Modi government continues to deny media freedom in Indian Occupied Kashmir

Modi government has crushed the media and stifling the political dissent in Indian Occupied Kashmir

The hard line Hindu nationalist Modi government continues to deny the media freedom and access to information in Indian occupied Kashmir. The journalists and media houses are under attack in IOK. The arrests and detentions of journalists on false charges have become a new norm. The Modi government is on the mission to stifle the media in IOK.

 In its “India Press Freedom Report 2021” released today, Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) stated the highest number of journalists/media organisations targeted (25) was in Jammu and Kashmir.  

The report says that “the spotlight on the denial of media freedom continued to be on Jammu and Kashmir where journalists often found themselves summoned to police stations, accused in FIRs registered, their houses being raided, being manhandled and/or being beaten by the security forces.

On 22 February 2021, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression flagged the “allegations of intimidations, searches and confiscations” faced by the human rights groups and journalists in Jammu and Kashmir.

On 8 March 2021, the EGI stated that journalists in Kashmir are intimidated for merely doing their jobs and that it was “shocked by the casual manner in which the editors of Kashmir-based publications are routinely detained by security forces for reporting or for their editorials”.
On 6 April 2021, Vijay Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir allegedly warned journalists against covering operations at gun-fire sites in the real-time and printing content that “promotes anti-national sentiment”.

On 24 August 2021, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court cancelled the FIR registered against journalist Asif Iqbal Naik for a news report on alleged custodial torture of a man in 2018 terming it “undoubtedly (10) India Press Freedom Report-2021 an attack on the freedom of press”.
On 29 September 2021, the Press Council of India (PCI) constituted a three-member fact finding Committee to investigate incidents of intimidation and harassment of journalists and Jammu and Kashmir based on a complaint filed by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti.

 In her letter on 26 September 2021, Mehbooba Mufti had urged the PCI to send a fact-finding team to look into the “systematic harassment” of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir and take corrective measures.

In her letter titled “Intimidation, snooping and harassment of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir”, she mentioned cases of police raids at the homes of journalists besides coercing them to fill forms that sought “personal and bizarre information”.8 Journalists faced restrictions for access to information.

On 24 July 2021, the District Magistrate of Kupwara District banned the operation of unauthorised and unregistered media persons citing the misuse of social media platforms by circulating fake and baseless news items for their own interests and directed such unauthorised/ unregistered journalists to complete their registration or obtain approval before they can be allowed to perform their professional duties.

                                                                           Web Desk 

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