IJU Condemns J&K Admin Shenanigans on Kashmir Press Club
New Delhi : The Indian Journalists Union condemns the J&K Registrar of Society for putting in abeyance the Kashmir Press Club’s registration and the ‘forcible takeover’ of the Club by a group of journalists, aided by the J&K administration and the police. The KPC, said the Union, has been vocal on media issues, sustained harassment and intimidation of journalists in the Valley and the twin actions smack of vendetta and brazen attempt to silence dissenting voices. The Union demands immediate restoration of the Club’s registration as a society and that elections be held at the earliest.
According to reports, the KPC had on Friday announced it would hold elections to form a new body on February 15, as it couldn’t do so last year due to pending re-registration under new UT laws. Within hours, the Registrar in an order said the SSP, CID, office has put on hold the non-involvement and verification of character and antecedent certificate of members of the KPC managing body, known as Aiwan-e-Sahafat and thus the “re-registration granted (to the KPC) on December 29, 2021 is hereby kept in abeyance till the receipt of final report from Additional District Magistrate, Srinagar.”
Shocking to say the least, within 24 hours a group of journalists, headed by Salim Pandit and Zulfikar Majid, arrived at the KPC office in Srinagar on Saturday, weekend curfew, took it over by appointing themselves as a ‘new body’, and locked the Club for a week, in the presence of police and para military personnel.
The KPC reacted saying: “The new unfortunate development has advertently stalled the election process for the new body that was set in motion. The management committee wants to put this on record that during its tenure it has run the KPC with professionalism and integrity. It hopes that the institution, which has been established after a lot of efforts by the fraternity, continues to be allowed to function in the best interests of its members.”
In a statement, IJU President and former Member of Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General and Vice President of International Federation of Journalists Sabina Inderjit said the hostile takeover by a group of journalists, ‘self-styled’ body, goes against democratic principles, is unconstitutional and smacks of an adamant administration hell bent on silencing media and institutions critical of its functioning and using the pandemic as an excuse to carry on its nefarious designs. The Union demands from the L-G to inquire into the matter and ensure the KPC is allowed to function democratically.
The IJU in its National Executive Committee meeting held in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, on 12 January had in a Resolution expressed solidarity with its J&K journalist colleagues and demanded that the J&K administration desist from stifling press freedom in Kashmir.