A group of journalists reached Kashmir Press Club in Srinagar on Sunday morning in the presence of armed forces and captured it. This dramatic change happened after the process began for the election of a new management body. Many journalist organizations of the country have strongly criticized it, calling it illegal and undemocratic.
Srinagar: On 15 January, a group of journalists and newspaper owners took over the management of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC), which was preparing for the annual elections in Jammu and Kashmir. This group of journalists and newspaper owners had reached here in the presence of armed forces.
Several media organizations termed the coup at the Kashmir Press Club in the capital Srinagar as anarchic and a tendency to strangle the democratic media body in Kashmir.
KPC was formed under the Jammu and Kashmir Societies Registration Act.
The Editors Guild of India is aghast at the manner in which the office and the management of Kashmir Press Club, the largest journalists’ association in the Valley, was forcibly taken over by a group of journalists with the help of armed policemen on January 15, 2022. pic.twitter.com/D6zVW7iW1P
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) January 16, 2022
The Editors Guild of India condemned the coup, saying, “The capture of the KPC by the self-proclaimed management in the presence of armed security personnel is a violation of the sanctity of the club and an expression of the tendency to suppress the freedom of the press in the state.” What is more worrying is that the state police entered the KPC premises without any warrant and paperwork and got involved in this coup.
Press Club of India is deeply concerned with the developments with Kashmir Press Club.
We demand that the democratic process of holding elections be allowed in a peaceful manner. We appeal to Hon Jammu and Kashmir LG @manojsinha_ to look into the matter and facilitate elections. pic.twitter.com/JFmm6CtZNE
— Press Club of India (@PCITweets) January 16, 2022
The Press Club of India has also expressed concern over this development and has demanded democratic elections in KPC. At the same time, the interim body of KPC led by Salim Pandit has denied these allegations.
Let us tell you that Salim Pandit is associated with the Times of India and led by him, a group of journalists and newspaper owners have arbitrarily taken over the KPC.
They the wire Told to, ‘I am a founding member of the club. My only concern is that it should run smoothly. The government has refused to register. We will get it registered and elections will be held in a fair and free manner.
This dramatic change in the KPC, the largest journalists’ association of journalists in Kashmir, actually happened after initiating the process of electing a new managing body. The previous management completed its two-year term on 14 July 2021 but due to the uncertainties after the abrogation of Article 370, fresh elections could not be held.
In April last year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had asked media groups in the union territory to re-register under the Societies Registration Act 1860 as the Jammu and Kashmir Act was repealed after the abrogation of Article 370.
Last week, the managing body of KPC had said that they had received approval from the government for re-registration.
The KPC, formed under the PDP-BJP coalition government, announced on January 14 that the current management had decided to hold elections for the new management body.
According to officials, however, in surprising developments, the permission for re-registration was withdrawn after receiving a report from the SSP CID (HQ).
The Registrar of Societies, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, told Outlook, “I had received information from the office of the Deputy Commissioner from Srinagar to postpone the re-registration of the Kashmir Press Club, according to which I issued orders.”
At the same time, on Sunday morning, a dozen policemen and paramilitary personnel with automatic weapons reached KPC’s Aiwan-e-Sahfat office on Polo View Road in Srinagar, which created an atmosphere of panic among the journalists, due to which many journalists left. In between, a group of journalists and newspaper owners started gathering there. Many of these are considered pro-government.
Salim Pandit reached there on Sunday afternoon at around 1.45 pm in an armored convoy with security personnel. After this a meeting was held in the conference hall of KPC.
Salim is one of the few journalists in Kashmir who have been provided security by the administration after the abrogation of Article 370. Salim’s press club membership was canceled in November 2019 for “maligning the reputation of the media fraternity”.
According to a statement issued by the KPC at that time, ‘Salim had published a report in his newspaper on 19 July 2019 that an editor of an English daily had close links with Lashkar-e-Taiba and the editor had asked jihadi journalists to report in his newspaper. has been appointed.
Sajjad Ahmed, manager of KPC the wire “On Saturday afternoon, a group of journalists came to the office premises and asked them to hand over office computers, stationery and other documents,” he said.
“When I asked them who they were, they said they belonged to the interim body,” he said.
After the meeting, Salim told the journalists standing outside the KPC premises that it should not be thought that we have captured it by force.
He said, ‘We have your, mine and everyone’s support. We have unanimously elected the interim body president (Pandit), general secretary (Zulfikar Majid, Deccan Herald correspondent) and treasurer (Arshid Rasool, editor of the local daily Gadayal).
He said, ‘We are authorized. You guys have authorized us. We will form committees to look into various matters like membership.
Asked about the arbitrary takeover of the interim body, Salim said, “Suggest us how to run the club.” You are part of it.
In a statement issued this evening, Salim said, “Many journalists’ organizations in the Kashmir Valley unanimously decided to form an interim body, which would be authorized to form an executive body that would govern the KPC as a modern press club.” It will help us to grow in the field, which is really the need of the hour.
He has not yet given the names of journalist organizations that support his move.
Shuja-ul-Haq, the chairman of this deposed body, says that the capture of KPC by Salim has hurt all of us because this institution was engaged in the welfare of journalist members.
Shuja said in the statement, “I urge the administration and the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to look into the matter and ensure that this institution is allowed to function in a democratic manner.”
Journalists’ organizations, leaders criticized
Terming the occupation as “illegal and unconstitutional”, at least nine journalists’ associations, including the former management body of the Kashmir Press Club, said they were “illegal and arbitrarily attacked by some journalists who have open support from the local administration”. Annoyed by the kind of occupation.
The statement said, ‘The day the administration announced a weekend lockdown in view of the spread of COVID-19, a group of journalists entered the club’s office and forcibly took over the club by taking the office members hostage. A large number of police and paramilitary forces have already been deployed for this highly condemnable and completely illegal move.
These associations have appealed to the Press Council of India, Press Club of India, Federation of Press Clubs and Editors Guild of India to take note of how the local administration is supporting anarchy and throttling the democratic media body. is choking.
“If such incidents are allowed to happen with the Press Club of Kashmir, it will serve as an example for the future,” his statement said.
Mumbai Press Club has also issued a statement regarding this forcible control. The Delhi Union of Journalists has also demanded the reinstatement of KPC.
At the same time, KPC interim president Salim said, ‘The elected managing body of the club ended on 14 July 2021. This is a now inactive entity. Now it is not even registered. My aim is to get KPC registered. I am ready to hand over its command after the elections are held.
A member of the KPC, on the condition of anonymity, said that there was no discussion regarding the takeover of KPC from the existing managing body.
He admitted that because of the administration’s ban on the free press, he was unable to do the work he did for journalists. Since 2019, many journalists have been booked under stringent laws just for doing their job.
“The way a democratic media body was captured, the entire fraternity is in shock,” he said.
An executive member of the previous managing body of KPC said, “It is like a stranger entered a house and occupied the house accusing the owner of not cleaning the house. It is completely illegal and undemocratic.
The change in the management of KPC has also created a political controversy in Kashmir. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have targeted the administration for overthrowing a democratic body.
There is no government this “journalist” hasn’t sucked up to & no government he hasn’t lied on behalf of. I should know, I’ve seen both sides very closely. Now he’s benefited from a state sponsored coup. https://t.co/POIgQV2Ea7
– Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 15, 2022
Omar Abdullah tweeted, citing Salim, saying, ‘There is no government which this journalist has not used and there is no government on whose behalf he has not lied. I should know, I have seen both the sides very closely. Now it is benefiting from the state sponsored coup.
Todays state sponsored coup at KPC would put the worst dictators to shame.State agencies here are too busy overthrowing elected bodies & firing govt employees instead of discharging their actual duties. Shame on those who aided & facilitated this coup against their own fraternity https://t.co/SnyZYSt0mN
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) January 15, 2022
At the same time, Mehbooba Mufti also tweeted and said, ‘Today the state sponsored coup in KPC has put to shame even the worst dictators. Here the state agencies are busy overthrowing elected bodies and sacking government employees. Shame on those who went against their own fraternity and helped in this coup.
(Click here to read this report in English.)
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