Muzzling Media

Farzana Mumtaz

In contemporary times, media is considered as the fourth pillar of the state all over the world; first and foremost British Member of Parliament Lord Macaulay had given this important status to the media . Pertinently, Media  plays  an important role in changing and influencing the thoughts of the people. Media has a great power to influence what we think about things happening.

Unfortunately, in the conflict ridden Kashmir especially since past three decades Media has been at receiving end especially from men in uniform, unknown gunman and unruly mobs. To add to woes, censor and restrictions have made the job of Media tough in Kashmir.

Just recently, prominent photojournalist Touseef Mustafa was manhandled by police .Pertinently, he works for the International Agency ‘Agence France Presse’ (AFP) and told media that police stopped them when they tried to enter inside Hurriyat headquarters at Hyderpora, where a joint meeting of Resistance leadership was underway.

 

“As police arrested Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yaseen Malik and tried to bundle them into police vehicles, we as part of our profession and duty clicked photographs. To my utter surprise, a police officer stopped me and tried to snatch my lens. When I resisted, he manhandled me. The behavior and action of the said police officer was uncalled for,” Mustafa said.

Last year only media during unrest faced tremendous wrath and restrictions. As a result The Editors Guild of India had condemned the “unwarranted muzzling” of the media in Jammu and Kashmir

In a statement, guild president Raj Chengappa, general secretary Prakash Dube and treasurer Seema Mustafa  had stated : “The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the efforts by the Jammu and Kashmir government to gag the media in the state… It is extremely unfortunate that the state government, under fire for its poor management of the law and order situation in the Valley, has sought to shoot the messenger..”

The statement had quoted reports regarding police raids on newspaper offices and harassment of journalists. “We are also aghast to note that the media censorship will continue, for a minimum of three days if not more. This is a direct assault to the freedom of the press in India and the guild strongly condemns this unwarranted muzzling of the media. The Editors Guild of India requests the state government to immediately lift the censorship and refrain from any action to intimidate the press,” the statement added.

Ajaz War, President Jammu and Kashmir Young Journalist Association , while speaking on the issue stated – “The misuse of power for muzzling the media has, unfortunately, been a routine than an exception in Kashmir valley . Smart, fair, independent journalism is essential for a democracy to function well so muzzling of media in Kashmir should stop.”

In nutshell, media is facing tremendous perils in Kashmir.

 

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