Kashmir Press Club expresses concern over frequent summons to journalists

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Srinagar: The Kashmir Press Club has expressed fresh concerns over the frequent summons to journalists in Kashmir by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

On 21 May 2020, The Kashmir Walla’s editor-in-chief Fahad Shah was summoned by the police’s Cyber Cell and questioned by senior police officials.

On 21 May, The Kashmir Walla had covered the aftermath of the gunfight in downtown Srinagar’s Nawakadal area. The police had objected to the coverage of local’s account of what had ensued during the gunfight. Mr. Shah was at the police station for over four hours.

Prior to his summoning, the police had summoned three journalists The Hindu’s Srinagar correspondent Peerzada Ashiq, author and journalist Gowhar Geelani, and photojournalist Masrat Zahra. Mr. Geelani and Ms. Zahra were also booked under the stringent anti-terror legislation, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

“The KPC has condemned all such incidents and has noted that such summons and FIRs are aimed at harassing and intimidating the journalists and thus are a clear violation of the press freedom,” the statement issued by the Club read. “KPC urges the highest authorities in the administration & police to take a look at these issues, so that the journalists reporting from the valley are provided a conducive atmosphere to work.”

The summons to journalists have increased in their frequency since August 2019 when Jammu and Kashmir’s limited autonomy and statehood was unilaterally abrogated by the Government of India, bringing it under the Centre’s direct oversight. In the latest World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, India ranked at 142 out of 180 countries, dropping two places from last year.

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