Srinagar, 25 Aug: The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Wednesday expressed concern over the accentuating curbs on the freedom of vernacular press in Kashmir saying besides silencing voices critical of the administration, the gags have monopolized the flow of information in Jammu and Kashmir.
Taking strong exception to the dwindling press freedom in Kashmir, Party Spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said that the press fraternity in Kashmir is at the receiving end due to the executive apathy and intrinsic pressure associated with reporting in a conflict situation.
The curbs and gags, he said, will further hinder the free and fair working of the press fraternity in the region. Choking the voice of an independent media, he maintained, would go a long way in widening the gap between the people and the government. This, he added, could have menacing repercussions on the region that continues to remain fragile in spite of a monopolized flow of information.
Imran said the true essence of a free press in Kashmir was long ago recognized in the shape of right to free speech and free press by National Conference in its revolutionary manifesto of ‘Naya Kashmir’, and that during the successive decades following independence, it has kept up with its commitment towards ensuring an enabling environment where media and press fraternity would work without fear. The tightening of juggernaut around the media and press fraternity, he held, has pushed various local dailies to stop their coverage of various issues of public importance in order to refrain from offending the authorities.
While underscoring the centrality of free press in a democratic set up, the party spokesperson said that it goes without saying how important a role a free press plays in contributing to knowledge of a common person and in calling the attention of citizens towards the irregularities in the working of government. Extolling the role of journalistic fraternity in Kashmir, he said undue reprisals in one or other form have made it very difficult for the journalists in Kashmir to carry out their job in a free manner.
“People associated with the press in Kashmir are constantly subjected to reappraisals from different quarters. Despite the troubles they are experiencing, they haven’t lowered their guard in highlighting the woes of people,” Imran said. While calling for immediate revocation of charges against journalists in Kashmir, he said adding that it does not behoove a democratic set up to muzzle freedom of speech.
While praising the role of the press amid the prevailing COVID19 crises, he said local media has played a commendable role in updating people with challenges thrown by the crises. He maintained that the media has done a yeoman’s service by disseminating valid information about the crises, its clinical progression, and providing an antidote to the misinformation on social media.