Kashmir journalists protest top cop’s advice on covering encounters
Journalists in Kashmir have accused the inspector general of police (IGP) Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, of “coercion”. The accusation came after the top cop asked media persons not to carry any live coverage of encounter sites or any other law and order situation.
On Tuesday evening, IGP Vijay Kumar sent an advisory in whtsapp groups and asked the media persons not to interfere in professional and bona fide duties of the security forces at sites of encounters. The statement said, “Media persons should not come closer to encounter sites and law and order situations and they should not carry live coverage of these situations. No operational content should be carried which is likely to incite violence or which promotes anti national sentiment.”
“The freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions. They should not violate other people’s right to guarantee of life or putting the national security in jeopardy,” he added.
The directions were slammed by around one dozen media organisations in Kashmir including Kashmir Press Club and Kashmir Editors Guild.
On Wednesday evening, Kashmir Press Club released a joint statement and said, “If this is a part of the official policy of the police then it appears to be a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground. It also seems to be a part of the string of measures taken by the authorities to suppress freedom of press in the region. Summoning journalists to police stations, filing FIRs and seeking informal explanations for their work has intensified in the past two years.”
According to them, Kashmir’s media is aware of the journalistic guidelines, ethics and situations like encounters. Despite facing threats to their lives, they have always upheld these principles. The statement also said that stopping the media from covering law and order situations would mean stopping them from delivering their professional duties.
While asking for a clarification on the IG’s statement, the joint statement said, “Any such attack on press freedom and journalism is highly distressful. In this backdrop, journalist bodies in Kashmir urge Mr Kumar to put the record straight and clarify the statement attributed to him.”
Meanwhile, IGP Kumar had directed senior superintendents of police (SSP) to take action against journalists who violated the order.