The Editors Guild of India on Monday asked Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra to take action against Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Choudhary Lal Singh for allegedly threatening journalists in Jammu and Kashmir. The organisation demanded that Singh retract the “offending” statement and offer an apology.
Unhappy with the reportage of the Kathua murder and alleged rape case, Singh had warned journalists on Friday to “mend their ways”. Singh was a minister in the Mehbooba Mufti-led state government, and had resigned from his post after massive outrage over his participation in a demonstration in support of an accused in the case.
“Now I will tell Kashmiri journalists to draw a line on the journalism you do and how you have to live,” Singh said at a press conference in Srinagar. “Do you have to live like what happened to Basharat, so that such a situation emerges?” He was referring to Basharat Bukhari, whose brother Shujaat Bukhari – the editor of Rising Kashmir – was assassinated on June 14.
The Editors Guild of India described Singh’s statements as a “barely veiled threat of violence”. “Such a warning not only betrays Mr Singh’s deep disregard for the role of the Free Press in a democracy, it also amounts to encouraging physical attacks against journalists in the sensitive state and elsewhere in the country,” the statement said.
Media organisations including the Indian Women’s Press Corps, the Press Club of India, the Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs of India issued a joint statement condemning Singh’s statements.