A delegation of Jammu and Kashmir Journalists Association (JAKJA) called on the Press Council of India’s (PCI) Fact Finding Committee on Friday and apprised it of the problems the journalists in Kashmir are facing for the past two years.
The journalist body in a letter to the PCI raised issues faced by the scribes in Kashmir and expected that problems faced will be thoroughly investigated, “We expect that the state of journalism in Kashmir will be thoroughly investigated and the problems faced by the journalists here addressed forthwith.”
JAKJA said that there are hundreds of journalists working in local media outlets, scores of them have been laid off and almost all are facing pay cuts.
It further said, “We’re pleased to know that PCI is touring Kashmir in order to find facts about the state of journalism in Kashmir post abrogation of article 370/35-A. As you are already aware how journalists have suffered for the past two years, journalists in Kashmir are working in an extremely hostile environment,”
Talking about the gagging of media following article-370 abrogation, it said, “The Internet shutdown in August/September 2019-longest in years caused immense problems for the journalists, as they had to wait in long queues at a government facility where the access to Internet was provided in an open space.”
JAKJA said that media persons have endured the worst ever crisis as several journalists were beaten in the line of duty, “Azaan Javaid (The Print) and Anees Zargar (Newsclick) were thrashed and abused by the police near Jamia Masjid in 2019. Shafat Farooq, a BBC journalist, was mercilessly beaten outside the Jamia Masjid in March this year. Veteran freelancer and editor of The Kashmir Walla Fahad Shah has been frequenting police stations for years now as he is often summoned.”
Adding that Police, paramilitary personnel and sleuths of the NIA raided the homes of four journalists in September, “Their phones, work gadgets and passports were seized and they were questioned in a police station. One of them is effectively jobless as his employer sacked him immediately after the raid.” JAKJA said in the communique.
It further said, “A freelance video journalist Mukhtar Zahoor was picked up from his home in the middle of October 12 night and detained in a lock up at Ram Munshi Bagh police station. He was let go the next day as the police said, “the doubts were cleared”.A prominent TV panellist Majid Hyderi was summoned to a counterinsurgency camp and questioned for hours according to his latest tweet.”
JAKJA also sought attention of PCI on unreasonable salaries of scribes working with different valley newspapers, “They have already been working on unreasonable salaries. We seek your attention to the absence of a proper mechanism, on the lines of a wage board, about the fixation of remunerations for those working in newspaper offices here.”