On Sunday morning, a group of journalists reached Kashmir Press Club 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. Now the administration said that it had taken it under its control due to disagreements between several groups of journalists.
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken over the Kashmir Press Club (KPC). The administration said the decision has been taken amid disagreements and untoward incidents among various groups of journalists.
In fact, on January 15, a group of independent journalists and newspaper owners barged into the Kashmir Press Club premises and claimed to be the new management of the club.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration led by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday said that the Kashmir Press Club has ceased to exist after its failure to re-register under the Societies Act.
The administration said in a statement, ‘The current management body of the Press Club has legally ended on 14 July 2021. The term also ended on the same date.
This new development comes hours after a group of independent journalists affiliated to national and international news organizations including BBC, Associated Press announced the nomination of a committee to conduct elections for the new management body of the Kashmir Press Club.
The BBC’s Riyaz Mansroor topped the committee of these 13 journalists. This was followed by Mehrajuddin of the Associated Press.
This committee had said on January 16 that it was working towards completing the legalization of the club and the process of its re-registration.
A day earlier, the Editors Guild of India had called the capture of the Press Club an “armed coup”.
In fact, a committee of journalists, led by Salim Pandit associated with the Times of India, along with at least 10 more journalists and newspaper owners, took over the office of the KPC and named Salim as its interim president.
Let us tell you that some of these journalists and newspaper owners are considered pro-government.
The hurried election of the club’s interim committee and the presence of automatic-armed security personnel at the press club on Saturday sparked outrage among the country’s leading journalist bodies and outspoken activists for freedom of expression, who have in this way been accused of taking illegal possession of the club. criticized the involvement of the Jammu and Kashmir administration.
The ousted management body of the Kashmir Press Club had said on Monday that an interim committee was formed with the objective of shutting down the club.
Ishfaq Tantre, general secretary of the deposed Kashmir Press Club, said in a statement, “For this purpose they (administration) raised a group of journalists. By doing this they want to suppress the voice of journalists which is heard through this forum of Kashmir Press Club. It is the only democratic and independent journalist body in the Valley.
“But it is our firm belief that our journalists are capable of keeping this flame burning and meeting these challenges,” the statement said. I want to reiterate that journalism has flourished in Kashmir and will continue to do so in future also.
This issue brought embarrassment to the administration, due to which the administration is now engaged in damage control. For this reason, the administration has described the capture of KPC by the Interim Committee as an unpleasant incident between the two rival groups.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) said, “Keeping in view this aspect of the dispute and in the light of reports received from social media and other sources, the possible law and order situation is ascertained, in which there is a need for intervention.” There has definitely been a need.
Let us tell you that the Kashmir Press Club is in an old building on Polo View Road in Srinagar. Before 2017, this building was occupied by the Jammu and Kashmir Employment Department.
After the death of Mufti Mohammad Syed, the Jammu and Kashmir government led by Mehbooba Mufti partially renovated this building and allotted it to the Kashmir Press Club.
The announcement was made by Jammu and Kashmir’s Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in his third budget speech and it was seen as a major achievement for the local media fraternity in Kashmir, working in difficult conditions to report on the volatile situation in the region. are doing.
The PDP-BJP government had also promised an annual budget of fifty lakh rupees for the Kashmir Press Club.
However, in view of this new controversy, the administration has canceled the premises allotted to Aiva-e-Safat (KPC Office). The club remained open even during some major events in history, including the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and the spread of COVID-19.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration said that it is committed to a free and fair press and that journalists are entitled to all facilities including professional, educational, social, cultural, recreational and welfare activities.
Anuradha Bhasin, editor of the Jammu-based English daily Kashmir Times, says the KPC’s inability to hold elections for the governing body and the endless delay in the process of re-registration is actually an excuse to shut down the democratic institution.
They the wire “It is clear that the move to cancel the process of re-registration of KPC was premeditated and aimed at killing a democratic institution where journalists pursue free thought and free expression.”
The KPC had applied for re-registration in May last year and it was also approved by the Registrar of Societies on December 29 last year after the club announced the dates for the election of the new management body on February 14.
However, the administration put an end to the re-registration citing a CID report. However, this report has not been made public yet.
Bhasin said the KPC issues should be resolved by the media fraternity of Kashmir. Instead of promoting democracy, the government is imposing its will and destroying an institution in an undemocratic manner.
He said, ‘It has set a wrong precedent. If it can happen in Kashmir, it can happen anywhere.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Indian Journalists’ Union said that the KPC has been vocal about media issues, harassment and intimidation of journalists in the Valley, but these recent incidents have sought political vendetta and silencing the voices of dissent. shows efforts.
The union had on January 12 passed a resolution at the National Executive Committee meeting in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, expressing solidarity with Kashmiri journalists and demanding an inquiry into the incidents at the Press Club in the past three days.
(Click here to read this report in English.)
read this also…
Categories: india media special