Three Kashmiri journalists have been asked to vacate the government accommodations as soon as possible, the Kashmir Press Club said in a statement on Monday. The three journalists are Aijaz Hussain who works for Associated Press, Fayaz Bukhari of Reuters and Nazir Masoodi from NDTV.
The press club condemned the government’s actions and called it a pressure tactic. “At least three senior Kashmiri journalists Aijaz Hussain, Fayaz Bukhari & Nazir Masoodi were asked to vacate the government accommodations as soon as possible, which is nothing but harassment aimed at coercing journalists to toe a particular line,” it said. The press club’s statement was tweeted by several journalists.
Denouncing the communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, which entered its 30th day on Tuesday, the press club said it has crippled journalists and disabled “them from reporting the ground situation”. Severe restrictions, including a communication blockade, have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5, when the Union government scrapped special status for the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
The press club said it has taken up the matter with government authorities many times, but all its efforts have proved to be futile. “Currently, hundreds of journalists (both local and visiting) and media workers are forced to stay in queue waiting for their turn to file their assignments at the makeshift Media Facilitation Centre in Srinagar,” said the press club. “The centre is equipped with only five computers and a low speed internet connection.”
The Kashmir Press Club demanded that the authorities restore internet and telephone facility to journalists and media outlets. The state administration, on the other hand, claimed that prohibitory orders were no more in place during the day in 93% of Jammu and Kashmir. While prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually, the communications blockade remains in many parts.
The press club condemned the manner in which Kashmiri journalist and author Gowhar Geelani was stopped by immigration authorities at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport as he was heading to Germany on August 31. Geelani, who works as an editor at German media organisation Deutsche Welle, was to attend a training programme in Bonn. Geelani is also an executive member of the Kashmir Press Club.
The press club also alleged that a Kashmiri journalist was summoned by the authorities to reveal his sources. “We urge the authorities to allow journalists to work without any coercion and enable free and fair atmosphere for media,” it added.
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