Kashmir Press Association, in a meeting held in Srinagar on 15 August, 2010, demanded an intervention by all national and state media associations to raise the concerns of the Kashmir press at the national level. The association also came to the decision, that the President and all small scale newspapers, should take-up this situation seriously and help Kashmir-based editors, journalists, photo journalists and videographers, in their hour of trial.
Speaking to exchange4media, Gulam Hassan Kullu, President, Kashmir Press Association, said that with the fresh spate of violence in the valley, instances of curbs on media have been increasing. Earlier as well, journalists had denounced restrictions on media, and a letter was subsequently sent to the Press Council of India, which had issued a Show Cause Notice to the Chief Secretary of J&K government, asking him to explain curbs on publications of newspapers, as well as preventing journalists to conduct their professional duties, during the current phase of unrest.
“It is learnt that the full-council meeting headed by its Chairman, Justice GN Ray, took note of a complaint filed by the Kashmir based newspaper organizations and an appeal issued by Delhi based J&K journalists to help preserve the freedom of the press in the Valley,” added Kullu. He further noted, “We have also requested PCI to visit Kashmir and take a look at the real situation.”
He lamented that intermittent confiscation of newspaper copies of Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Uzma, Srinagar Times, Rising Kashmir, Blund Kashmir, Ta mil-e-Irshad and Imroze Kashmir by the Police, is an ironical attack on the freedom of the media.
As it is known that with the fresh turmoil in the Valley, there have been large numbers of instances when curfew passes issued by District Magistrates were torn apart and journalists thrashed and humiliated. There were also some recent cases of harassment of media persons including Ashiq Hussain, Editor, Veth; MY Qureshi, Editor, Daily Khidmat; Mehraj-u-Din, Editor, Srinagar News; Rameez Ahmad Makhdoomi, Correspondent, Mirror of Kashmir; Arif Shafi Khanyari, Reporter, National Daily Sahafat and Sheikh Fyaz, Photographer, UNI.
Kullu stated that, while the press guides and gives shape to public opinion by raising its powerful voice against any attempted invasion of people’s rights and liberties, it also serves as the ever watchful guardian of the people. Such being the character and functions of the press, it becomes abundantly clear that it should be allowed a large amount of freedom. “But it is ironical that this fundamental right is under attack at present in Kashmir valley,” Kullu concluded.
Kashmir Press Association, a body of Editors of English and Urdu Dailies and Weeklies, and was formed in October, 2007, to serve as a bridge between the people and the government, and project the role of media in a conflict zone, where problems have accumulated over the past two decades.