New Delhi: A fact-finding committee (FFC) of the Press Council of India (PCI) in a report mentioned that the media in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is being choked due to local administration’s curbs.
The three-member committee which was set up in September 2021 comprises Prakash Dubey, convener and group editor of Dainik Bhaskar, Gurbir Singh of The New Indian Express, and Dr Suman Gupta, the editor of Jan Morcha. It was constituted by PCI after receiving a letter from Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti.
After conducting a survey, the committee submitted a 36-page report titled, ‘State of Media in Jammu and Kashmir’.
In the report, it mentioned, “Journalists function with a high level of stress and are constantly facing pressure both from the government agencies and the police as well as militants”.
It also mentioned that the local administration suspects that a large number of journalists are sympathizers of the militant cause. “This was admitted by lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, who frankly told the FFC that many journalists were of ‘anti-national’ persuasion. He conceded that when he was first appointed, he used to encourage open press conferences but now has gone back to a ‘selective engagement’ with preferred journalists,” the report mentioned.
Mentioning the number of cases booked against journalists, it mentioned that as per IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar, from 2016 till mid-October 2021, 49 cases had been registered against journalists. Eight of them are facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), it added.
Specifying the role of the media, FFC in the report mentioned that journalists’ writing against government policies, or quoting a family or civilian sources in a story about excesses of the armed forces cannot be labeled as ‘anti-national activities’.