A fact-finding committee (FFC) set up by the Press Council of India (PCI) has revealed that journalists in Jammu & Kashmir Valley region are being "constantly harassed" by the security forces and that news media is being choked with stringent regulations by the local government, reported The Indian Express.
The FFC submitted a report last week, saying:
"News media in the Jammu & Kashmir region, and especially in the Valley is slowly being choked mainly because of the extensive curbs imposed by the local administration."
It added, "There is a long list of journalists who have been individually harassed. The object is to create fear and intimidation to fall in with the government line."
The FFC is a three-member committee, comprising Prakash Dubey, Suman Gupta, and Gurbir Singh.
Journalists Questioned Over 'Anti-National' Activities
According to the report, journalists are facing the threat of violence by militants, "which acts as a deterrent." The report recorded "numerous cases of journalists being subject to interrogation, threatened and made to fill irrelevant profiling documents."
It also claimed that some journalists were summoned for questioning to a location called the 'Cargo Centre', which is a unit reserved for the interrogation of armed militants.
Journalists have claimed "constant harassment" by these officials, with accusations of supporting the "separatists" and detention or arrest for circulating "fake news," as per the FFC report.
The report also said that police had informed the FFC that as many as 49 journalists had been arrested and charged since 2016, of which 8 have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The police claimed that these journalists indulged in 'anti-national' activities, said the report.
Former PCI chairman Justice (retd) CK Prasad had set up the FFC committee to analyse the state of the media in J&K after PDP leader and ex-CM Mehbooba Mufti wrote to the Council. Mufti had written to PCI on the increasing cases of journalists being summoned by the police and made to fill a questionnaire, "which is suggestive that the person might have links with ‘anti-national’ forces."
Questions included the journalists' "political allegiance," "details of property owned," and "relations in Pakistan."
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)