Move beyond hollow claims on press freedom: KWJA

Srinagar, April 24: Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) has said that despite pleas for an enabling environment for media, J&K Police has not withdrawn its latest cases against three journalists in Kashmir.

“We strongly condemn and protest the continued harassment of journalists in Kashmir at the hands of police and reiterate our demand that cases against journalists Gowhar Geelani, Masrat Zehra and Peerzada Ashiq should be withdrawn immediately,” KWJA said in a statment.

KWJA said it was surprised “at the laughable claims of respect for press freedom from some officials in the state where a systemic repression of media houses and arm twisting of journalists has by now been entrenched as a governance policy to curtail the larger freedoms and rights of people”.

“It is ironical that such claims were made in the same statement that disdainfully referred to a well worked on news report as “fake news” and bragged about making some journalists apologize inside a police station,” it added.

The KWJA stated that the ugly pattern of summoning journalists to police stations, seeking  explanations about their professional work and intimidating them with the first information reports (FIRs) is going on since August last year.

“Like previous instances, KWJA believes cases against journalists Peerzada Ashiq, Masrat Zahra and Gowhar Geelani are aimed only at muzzling the press in Kashmir and that all charges against them are motivated,” KWJA stated.

“For a vibrant press to flourish in a society, authorities have to move beyond hollow claims of respect for press freedom and work towards a conducive environment where a journalist can report the facts on ground and /or express his opinion on social media without fear of a police summon”.

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