Several journalists claimed that personnel from the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday prevented them from entering the venue for the state’s Republic Day event, reports said. The development led to other media persons boycotting the event at the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium.
The journalists barred from entering the venue include Agence France Press photojournalist Tauseef Mustafa, Danish Ismail of Reuters, Aman Farooq of Greater Kashmir and video-journalists Umer Mehraj and Mehrajuddin of Associated Press. The journalists were purportedly told that there are “adverse reports” about them.
“We were surprised to see that despite having security passes issued by the police through information department, the security men having a list of journalists in hand barred my entry saying I have adverse verification report,” Mustafa said. “I am in this field for the past 28 years and this has happened for the first time.”
Journalist associations of Kashmir said the press fraternity condemned the branding of the reporters. They said the journalists were denied entry despite the Information Department having issued passes to them, while some journalists were completely denied passes, the associations added.
“We urge you to please look into the matter urgently as such an act is not only uncalled for but places us in a very unsafe environment,” the groups said in a letter to Srinagar district magistrate.
Peoples Conference Chairperson Sajjad Lone said that the administration “cannot define journalism and journalists through the security prism.”
Srinagar Deputy Commissioner Syed Abid Rashid said the journalists should have apprised him of the matter, Greater Kashmir reported. “I would have sorted out the issue on the spot,” Rashid said.
Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan asked the reporters to submit a memorandum on the matter to him, Kashmir News Observer reported. “I will seek a detailed report from Kashmir Inspector General of Police SP Pani over the issue.”
Governor’s advisor K Vijay Kumar said the matter will be looked into. “The entire process of such security clearance shall be reviewed for better coordination in future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik denounced the “neighbouring country’s” repeated attempts to infiltrate militants into India, ANI reported. “Ceasefire violations have brought hardship to the people living near the border,” Malik said.