PCI to investigate ‘intimidation’ of Kashmiri journalists

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Journalists protesting against internet ban and summoning of journalists in Srinagar, Kashmir. Photograph by Umer Asif for The Kashmir Walla

By Ubair ul Hameed

The Press Council of India (PCI) has constituted a three member fact finding committee to look into the cases of “intimidation and harassment” of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Hon’ble chairman, Press Council of India while taking a suo moto cognisance on the communication of Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, President PDP concerning intimidation and harassment of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir has constituted a three member Fact Finding Committee consisting of S/Shri Prakash Dubey, Convener and Group Editor Dainik Bhaskar; Gurbir Singh, Journalist, The New Indian Express; and Dr Suman Gupta, Editor, Jan Morcha, Member of the committee to inquire into the matter,” the order reads.

“The Fact-Finding Committee is required to make a thorough probe into the matter holding discussion with the concerned authorities and the affected journalists and collect such information as it deems,” the order said.

“The authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are requested to extend full cooperation and assistance to this fact finding committee for the discharge of its function,” the PCI said.

PCI’s move comes after Mehbooba Mufti, the former Chief Minister of Kashmir and the president of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, wrote a letter to the PCI and the Editors Guild of India on September 27 highlighting cases of “intimidation, snooping, and harassment of journalists in Kashmir.”

“I am sure you are aware that raids were conducted by police at homes of several journalists in Kashmir earlier this month. Personal items such as electronic gadgets including phones and laptops were illegally seized along with ATM cards and passports of their spouses. This comes close on the heels of the harrowing experiences that the journalist community in Jammu and Kashmir has been subject to post the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government,” Mehbooba wrote.

“We have witnessed the manner in which fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Indian constitution have increasingly come under attack especially in the last two years by a hostile and insecure dispensation,” the former CM’s letter said.

On Wednesday, taking to micro blogging site Twitter, Mehbooba thanked the PCI for looking into the matter.

“Thankful to the @PressCouncil_IN for their decision to constitute a fact finding committee to probe about journalists being harassed in J&K. Hope the local administration ensures their full co-operation so that this committee can discharge its duty. (sic),” Mehbooba said.

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