Srinagar: Press Guild of Kashmir, has expressed serious resentment against the government that has virtually banned the local media but was extending all facilities to media persons coming from Delhi and other parts of India to cover the situation here.
In a statement issued here today, a spokesman of the Guild said that while the authorities have put curbs on local media, cancelled the curfew passes earlier issued to local media persons and therefore no local newspaper could get published Thursday, media crews coming from Delhi and elsewhere were provided all facilities to cover the situation. Journalists working for national and International print and electronic media were also denied access and continue to be confined to their homes, while their counterparts who came from Delhi and other parts are roaming free to cover the events, said the spokesman adding that this treatment is condemnable. He pointed out that even the cameras of Srinagar based reporters working for TV channels were seized.
“This is share discrimination against Srinagar based media persons and media organizations,” the spokesman said.
Questioning the government’s intentions, the Guild spokesman said that it has been a practice all along that in crisis situations the governments, which are, curb the local media and facilitate access to favourites from outside state.
“This happened during Kargil war in 1999 too when local media was denied access to the information and media crews were brought from Delhi to cover the situation,” the spokesman said, wondering what the government was trying to convey by adopting such discriminatory approach.
“Without declaring officially, a blanket ban has been imposed on local media. But the media persons from outside Kashmir are free to visit any locale and cover all the events,” added the spokesman.
Meanwhile, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Thursday said that it was deeply disturbed at the drastic erosion of the atmosphere for journalism, following month-long civil disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a statement issued here, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said, “Cities in the Kashmir valley have been under curfew for a number of days since widespread demonstrations began in the region early in June. On July 7, as the army was summoned out of its barracks, the curfew was extended to cover the movement of all civilians, and word was put out that press passes would no longer be honoured.”
“The situation resulted in all Kashmir’s media personnel being confined to home. Photographers and news cameramen in the capital, Srinagar, were assaulted as they sought to record the day’s events. Some had their professional equipment confiscated by security agencies,” Park said.
“The day’s incidents followed similar occurrences on July 6, when at least 12 photographers working for local, national and international media were assaulted in Srinagar and suffered injuries of various degrees of seriousness, as security forces sought to restrain them from recording ongoing demonstrations,” Park said.
Park said, “Targeting and blaming the messenger is not an appropriate response for official agencies in Kashmir as they seek to restore civic peace.”
“The IFJ urges authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to follow a policy of transparency and accountability rather than seek to throttle the flow of news, whether good or bad,” Park said.
“The heavy-handed response seen so far creates an atmosphere where rumour and innuendo flourish, further embittering civic relations,” Park added further.
The IFJ has extends its support to the media community of the state, gathered on the platform of the Press Guild of Kashmir, which has strongly denounced the curbs imposed on media by state authorities and the use of force against media personnel.