The Kashmir Press Club on Monday, 10 February, convened an urgent meeting to discuss alleged physical attacks, threats, and intimidation being meted out to the journalists in Kashmir by Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police.
Representatives of all journalists' associations expressed their concern at "the harassment and questioning of journalists in Kashmir on flimsy grounds by the J&K Police".
According to a statement by the Press Club, restrictions on internet and forcibly seeking undertakings from news organisations for allowing limited internet access, constant surveillance by police, physical attacks and summons are tools aimed to ensure only a government-promoted version is heard outside.
Being the Fourth Estate, the government should ensure freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed in the constitution instead of muzzling the press, they said. Viewing media as part of problem in Kashmir and blaming journalists for everything wrong is quite misplaced, they added.
Kashmir Press Club joined by all journalist bodies in Kashmir asked the government to stop practice of summons and attacks on journalists.
On 17 December 2019, two journalists, Azaan Javaid and Anees Zargar were beaten up by police on video in Srinagar while covering a protest. Despite assurances by the police, no action was initiated against the accused cops, said the press release.
According to the reporters, the police officer who thrashed them explicitly said, “Why did you carry stories against me?”
Internet and mobile connectivity in the region were restricted from 5 August last year after the Centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories: Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
While most of the services except mobile internet were restored in Jammu within a week, Kashmir witnessed restoration of landlines and postpaid mobile services and internet facilities for essential services like hospitals in phases.