Stop muzzling of press, says journalists’ body after govt censors Manan Wani’s funeral

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Srinagar: A journalists association in Kashmir has strongly condemned the action by the authorities for not allowing journalists to cover funeral procession of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Manan Wani.

The Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA), in a statement said that the Governor Satya Pal Malik, top police officials and civil administration should “stop muzzling of press, the fourth estate of democracy and acts as a mirror for any civilized society.”

On 11 October 2018, when Wani was killed in a gunfight in Handwara district, the authorities had stopped journalists from reaching his residence in Tikipora, Lolab.

After a multiple incidents of barring journalists from performing their duties, a spokesperson of KJA, said that the two recent incidents of barring entry of journalists in the polling stations and from covering the funeral of slain Manan Wani shows the “explicit demonstration of government’s restrictions on media in Kashmir.

However, at many times the journalists had approached top police officials for intervention but all of them sidestepped their requests.

The spokesperson also said that journalists were also stopped by forces at various places even when they were carrying a valid pass issued by Chief Electoral Officer during elections.

“All these incidents expose the muddled behavior of the security establishment including the J&K police,” said spokesperson.

“Stopping journalists from doing their professional duties is a criminal act and it reflects that the set constitutional and democratic values are not respected in the state.”

The spokesperson further added that the democratic institutions form the bedrock of any society and its institutional arms but under such situation these may become vile.

Wani’s killing sparked widespread anger in the Kashmir Valley, with pro-freedom leaders calling for a shutdown next day.

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