Issue detailed report about journalists killed in Kashmir, KEG urges PCI

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Srinagar

Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) asked the visiting team of Press Council of India (PCI) to utilise its resources and issue a detailed report about the journalists who were killed in Kashmir during the last 30 years.

Press Council of India Team.

The editors said ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor, Shujaat Bukhari, one of the most prominent journalists, was brutally assassinated and his killers must be brought to justice. They said his journalism was flawless.

KEG said the routine wreath laying and glowing tributes to the fallen journalists in Kashmir will not help the shocked media fraternity unless the PCI utilises its enormous resources and unmatched influence to issue a detailed report about every single murder of the journalists in Kashmir.

The report must start with the assassination of Shujaat and get into every single murder since 1990. The report must offer some sort of detail about why they were killed.

The editors said that when a journalist is killed in Kashmir, there are condemnations and obituaries – coming from all sides, and it all stops at that. Though in all the murders, the police did register cases but not in a single case does the media fraternity know the follow-up as the cases are closed and forgotten.

Right now when everybody is genuinely concerned over why a prominent editor was gunned down, the appreciation was lacking when Shujaat was seeking his rights before the policymakers in Delhi after DAVP stopped advertisements to major publications across the state including Rising Kashmir.

KEG, however, appreciated the PCI for being responsive in the first such killing since 1990. Kashmir has lost 14 journalists in turmoil and in Jammu, one photographer was also killed.

Editors told the PCI that there was a dire need for engagement between the institution of PCI and the journalists who are walking on razors edge almost on daily basis in Kashmir. The bigger crisis, they said, was to ensure the media in Kashmir survives with its credibility intact in wake of massive propaganda by the state apparatus and faceless individuals operating in the shady corners of the internet.

Tragically, they pointed out that the PCI engagement with the media in Kashmir has three milestones so far. The first was when a group of editors were flown to Srinagar to rebut the reportage on Kunan mass rapes. The report that the three members of the PCI jotted down overnight was a decree against the Srinagar press corps and was used as a key document by the state in Srinagar and Delhi against the Kashmir media.

The editors reiterated – they had already stated the same in their earlier interactions with the PCI in 2017, that the PCI should either re-investigate the case and absolve Kashmir media of its alleged bias in its reportage of the incident or withdraw the report, the ‘Crisis and Credibility’.

The report, however, has not impacted the fairness and objectivity of the Kashmir media corps in covering a bleeding conflict. This, they said, is indicated by the fact that everywhere across the globe when it comes to the coverage of a conflict, Kashmiri scribes will be covering it for international media outlets.

PCI’s second major engagement was in 2017 when the PCI team visited Srinagar and spent a good time in interactions with the governance structure, the peripheral reporters, and the media in Srinagar. The objective of the prolonged visit was to investigate a few observations made by the Interlocutors on Kashmir – Dileep Padgoanker, Radha Kumar, M M Ansari, about the conduct of Kashmir media including the funding of media, their allegedly exaggerated circulation figures, and other things. It was interesting that while Government of India binned the interlocutor’s report, the PCI found it as its top priority to investigate the observations.

But the KEG is thankful that the report that was made public by the PCI later 2017 investigated these observations and reduced the weight of blatantly unsubstantiated and baseless allegations heaped on Kashmir media by the vested interests.

Now, as the three-member PCI team is visiting the state, it is yet another investigation – this time probing how and why Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated. On the assassination, the KEG said they know as much as the police revealed.

KEG told the PCI will have to increase its engagements with the journalists embattled in conflict and bloody situations. They suggested them to put their weight behind the rightful demands of the Jammu and Kashmir media in getting their rights which have been denied to them without any reason for last many years.

This blockage they said, is aimed at hitting the viability of the operations of the print industry in the state. KEG also suggested that the PCI will have to be quick and fast in responding to the tensions the media faces in Srinagar and in urgent cases it can take suo moto cognizance of the events which revolve round the physical safety and professional requirement of the journalists operation in Jammu and Kashmir.

Admitting that the media in Kashmir was in dire straits, the PCI team said they will be quick in addressing the issues pertaining to the state. They asked Srinagar media to strongly react to the efforts by the police or any other security agency that is aimed at interrupting the news gathering and dissemination. PCI team said they will act strongly on issues as and when they reach PCI.

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