Criminalizing journalism outrageous, drop charges: SAWM

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Srinagar: South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) has called the charges against Kashmiri journalists by Jammu and Kashmir Police “preposterous” and condemned “such harsh steps to intimidate and harass media-persons,” when the world fights against COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the police booked two Kashmiri journalists — Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani — for their posts on social media platforms. The police also registered an FIR against The Hindu’s story reported by Peerzada Ashiq.

“Zahra maintains that she was simply sharing her published works on her social media account. In Ashiq Peerzada’s report, if it was a case of factual inaccuracy, the police could have issued a rebuttal as is normally the case,” said  the SAWM. “Neither of the two cases qualify for criminal cases which appear to be attempts to curb the freedom of the press. The cases have been filed arbitrarily without hearing the journalists.”

The SAWM further added that journalists in Kashmir are already facing many challenges because of an ongoing conflict, the lockdown, and communication blockade since August 2019. 

“This criminalization of journalists is outrageous. We demand that the cases against these journalists be immediately dropped and the State desist from employing such intimidating ways to silence and gag the press, which is the fourth pillar of democracy,” added the statement.

“Ever since, while some journalists have been detained, many have been summoned and threatened, creating an overall atmosphere of fear which forbids journalists to carry on their work freely and hinders their prime duty to inform the public,” the statement said.

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