Justice Katju's step to hold state accountable is welcome
MEDIA WATCH BY ABDUL MAJID ZARGAR
It is encouraging to know Justice (Retd) Markanday Katju, Chairman Press Council of India seeking information & explanation from the State Government on the recent incident in which photojournalists were ruthlessly beaten by security forces & disabled from performing their professional duties. He has gone to the extent of saying that if the reports are true, then it is a serious matter affecting the freedom of the media guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.
In the words of legendary journalist I.F. Stone "Governments lie." And So do its institutions. Because of that, we need courageous journalists and media workers, whistle-blowers and news organizations that will carefully & faithfully report the facts without any pressure from any quarter. Nobody can deny the freedom of expression in the modern age. Nonetheless, journalism is an uphill task in Indian administered Kashmir. Since 1947 generally & 1989 particularly journalists have been at the receiving end of the Government and routinely harassed, threatened, tortured and severely wounded by the State & non-State actors. Several have survived fatal attacks. Many have lost their lives for the cause of freedom of expression. Even then the Kashmir press does not have the liberty to fully report the facts and realities related to Kashmir issue.
Kashmir is a valley of tears, death and cemetery of known and unknown martyrs. In such circumstances conscientious media plays a vital role. It closely watches the grim situation and struggles to portray a true picture of the events. Civilized societies do not tolerate attacks on journalists or arrest of editors and writers serving for the noble cause. The sincere journalists are part and voice of the society and they portray the true picture of the society. Unfortunately Kashmiri journalists have been deprived of presenting true political picture of events in Kashmir. It is one of the most unreported regions of the global world.
According to findings of Committee to protect Journalists (CPJ) based in New-York, a dozen Journalists have been killed in J&K since the onset of armed struggle, a very high figure by any standards. The same organization puts India eighth on CPJ's Impunity Index in 2010 which is a measure of very unfair treatment meted out to journalists mainly in Kashmir. In 1990, then governor Jagmohan ordered the arrest of a young journalist and the closure of three newspapers. Their printing presses were sealed and cases were registered against them under the infamous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act. The other respected & reputed journalists have also incurred the wrath of the Government in varying degrees & measures.
There are no private satellite television channels or private radio stations in Kashmir. Local cable television channels are debarred from broadcasting news independently. It is interesting to note that the same Govt. allows private TV channels in Jammu to broadcast news thus practicing a worst kind of discrimination in a so-called secular State. Since 2008, a new phenomenon is being witnessed to curb the movements of journalists. Their curfew passes are torn or declined or declared faked to disable them from reaching their offices and scenes worth reporting. Many news and text messages are blocked or banned to curb the rights of journalists. The Valley journalists are not allowed to express their genuine opinion about grim situation in Kashmir.
The litany of incidents of muzzling media men in Jammu & Kashmir is so long that it would require reams of paper to bring them on record. Katju’s move is the first step in that direction and we must hail it.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 1 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 2 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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