A curious situation has emerged regarding the Kashmir media.
A “fact-finding committee” (FFC) of the Press Council of India (PCI) has stated in its report that journalists in Kashmir are harassed for not toeing the government line. The committee has further stated that evictions from government housing, denial of government advertisements, and harassment by security forces are being used as tools to make the media support government schemes and policies. This and more in the report of the “fact-finding committee” would have been accepted as the gospel truth on Kashmir. The twist in the tale came when Jammu & Kashmir Press Corps (JKPC), a well-known body of Kashmir-based newspapers and news media debunked the PCI report as “false and malicious”.
The press release issued by JKPC said, “It appears that FFC of PCI has written the report only to create sensation to defame editors and newspapers without taking into account their deposition and subsequent narration of truth. The truth as told by prominent editors has been conveniently erased by the FFC from the report. In breach of every established norm of free and fair investigation and complete negation of the guidelines and ethics of such probe, FFC concluded its report without incorporating the version of editors, publishers, and journalists who appeared before it.” These are serious allegations. In its press release following the PCI report, JKPC metaphorically ripped apart the PCI report. It said, “The entire tone, tenor, and phraseology of said report are misleading and laden with premeditated fatal misstatements about Kashmir-based newspapers. There is no basis on which the inferences have been drawn by the FFC,” JKPC said.
Truth cannot be so polarized. The members of Press Council of India who prepared the report must introspect on the charges made by JKPC. If Press Council of India fails to address the points of concern raised by a sizable section of Kashmir’s media, its credibility among the public shall be compromised.