Press Council of India Appoints Committee To Look Into Allegations Of Harassment Of Journalists In Kashmir

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Will The PCI Team Uncover The Ugly Truths In Kashmir Media? 

We welcome the initiative taken by The Press Council of India (PCI) to constitute a three-member fact-finding committee to look into the allegations of intimidation and harassment of journalists in Kashmir. These allegations were leveled by former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in a recent communication to PCI.

According to media reports, the members of the fact-finding committee are Mr Prakash Dubey, Convener and Group Editor of Dainik Bhaskar; Mr Gurbir Singh of The New Indian Express and Dr Suman Gupta, Editor of Jan Morcha. They shall visit Kashmir to conduct a thorough probe into the allegations of “systematic harassment” of journalists in Kashmir. We stand with the media fraternity in upholding the freedom of the media and its right to perform its duty without restrictions or duress. Equally, we are aware that the Press Council of India cannot isolate itself from the security situation faced by the nation.

When the media performs its role in a fair and unbiased manner, it takes a 360 degree view of everything. The highest standards of journalism can be expected of the Press Council of India and the august three-member fact-finding committee constituted by it.

Some Kashmiri Journalists Are Top Strategic Assets For Pakistan

While examining the allegations of alleged systemic harassment of journalists, the august fact-finding committee of PCI may take cognizance of the fact that the enemy country has penetrated deep into Kashmir society. Pakistan has strategic assets in Kashmir’s media, businesses and politics. The august committee may be aware that in a conflict region, things cannot be taken at face value. Individuals often wear masks here. It is the bounden duty of the media and also the security agencies to look beyond the masks and search for the truth. Kashmir has its fair share of double-dealers, particularly in the media. It is an open fact that some so-called journalists in Kashmir are the top strategic assets of the enemy country. They drive the anti-India narrative in the national and international media wherein jihadi terrorism in Kashmir is whitewashed. India – the victim of terror – is demonized. These journalists are part of Kashmir’s deep and strong terror ecosystem. Their reportage on Kashmir is the Pakistan-sponsored discourse.

The Gravy Train From Pakistan

For decades, Pakistan has lavishly paid journalists, activists and academicians to support the anti-India narrative locally and internationally. For a growing number of beneficiaries, the conflict has become a “family business”. The anti-India stance on Kashmir has been consistently bankrolled by Pakistan. Every so-called human rights ‘concern’ on Kashmir is connected with the Pakistan nexus.

We are certain that the Press Council of India will question why no journalist in Kashmir brings to light the most tragic human rights violations of Kashmiris perpetrated by terrorists for decades. We are certain that the august committee constituted by PCI will examine as to why terrorism is glossed over in Kashmir. We hope that the fact-finding committee shall question why terrorism is being packaged by these so-called journalists as resistance in the face of occupation. This packaging is then sold to top media houses worldwide, because it is in international demand.

Why is this packaging flourishing? Because Pakistan pays for it. Pakistan has grabbed the information space with it. We will provide the august three-member committee of PCI with abundant evidence that journalists and media houses in Kashmir have been receiving money from Pakistan and other nations to peddle this fake narrative.

Why Are Those Who Stand With India Targeted, Killed?

We are certain that the PCI will take note that such deceitful, agenda-driven journalism is a deliberate and conscious attack on a nation’s sovereignty. There is a whole ecosystem supporting this charade in Kashmir. Academic careers are being built on it. Journalistic careers are flourishing on it.

For decades, all Kashmiris who stand up for India have lived under the pall of terror. Terrorists have systematically marked them and killed them for supporting Kashmir’s total integration with India. Even today, we face the same situation. Kashmiris who identify with India and denounce Pakistan’s evil designs do so at great personal risk. They can be targeted and killed any time. Think Shujaat Bukhari. Think Babar Qadri. It is a strange situation in a sovereign nation where those who don’t subscribe to the views of the jihadis live daily under the fear of death, and those who ally with the enemy feel safe and secure. The letter written by Ms. Mufti and the subsequent action taken by PCI in constituting the fact-finding committee has brought into center stage this strange dichotomy in Kashmir. The investigation by the three-member committee shall bring the predicament of those to the forefront who call a spade a spade. What was spoken about in hushed tones of fear shall now come sharply into the limelight.

The Kashmir Fight Blogs

We hope that the august three-member committee constituted by the Press Council of India shall examine the spine-chilling Kashmir Fight blogs. Even a casual read of the blogs reveals that it is written by an insider. For years now, these blogs have mercilessly marked those Kashmiris who speak up for the vibrant Indian democracy, and identify with India. Thereafter, these Kashmiris have been cold-bloodedly assassinated in broad daylight.

The persons driving the Kashmir Fight blogs may be living outside India. But the casual insider talk of these blogs reveals that the content is coming from within. These blogs impact not only those who are marked out for the kill. These blogs have a ripple effect on the entire Kashmir society. Such blogs silence other Kashmiris who want to speak up against terror. Such blogs silence independent thought and action. It is the mandate of J&K Police and the security agencies to protect the citizens. A report published on news portal The Wire on September 22 equated state investigation into those suspected to be associated with the Kashmir Fight blog as an attack on freedom of the press.

National security and internal security. Freedom of the press. These are separate areas. They cannot be merged or equated. J&K Lt Governor Shri Manoj Sinha famously said at the launch my third book titled Kashmir: The War Of Narratives, “If Pakistan attempts to shut down Kashmir using the force of the gun, then what is wrong if we use the stick to counter it?” Using the same analogy, why is state investigation and action against those journalists wrong who deepen and strengthen the terror network labeled as intimidation or harassment? What kind of twisted logic is this that a man wielding a pen can write what he wants to, and he must be regarded as sacrosanct, above and beyond the law of the land?

Who Has Truly Choked The Voices of Journalists In Kashmir?

It is time for the honourable Press Council of India to finally frame the question that has not been asked in Kashmir for decades. Who has choked the voices of the media in Kashmir?

The Press Council comprises some of the most respected and trusted members of our profession. It shall not take long for the Press Council to establish that it is not the state that has muzzled the voice of the media in Kashmir. The cruel, merciless gun of the terror forces has muzzled honest journalism in Kashmir. We are living in a region where men and women have been routinely killed for standing up against jihadi terror. The gun wielded by Pakistan-sponsored forces has normalized the killing of those who don’t support jihad. The fear of death chokes voices. The fear of death chokes truth. The same has been the fate of Kashmir. For decades, Kashmir has been ruled by the dark forces of terror. Radicalization and indoctrination of successive generations has been the ongoing project funded by Pakistan.

How shall the honourable Press Council of India define a journalist? What are the parameters stipulated by PCI for a journalist?

Adil Farooq – the man who hurled a grenade at the busy Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar and was caught with two more live grenades. Can he be called a journalist because he also worked for a media house? Adil’s duplicity got exposed because of his extreme action. The so-called journalists do not get exposed because their actions are quiet and far more insidious. How does one come across the reports of the alleged high-handedness of the Administration against the journalists? Obviously, one reads about this content from the reports filed by these same breed of journalists working for national and international media. So where and how are their voices choked? How do you establish that these journalists are being harassed and intimidated by the state? It is fortunate that the PCI is looking into the hypocrisy that defines most media work in Kashmir. The august three-member committee constituted by PCI will finally bring before the nation how jihadis have consistently threatened, intimidated, killed and maimed journalists for honestly doing their job.

In studying this dire situation which confronts the nation, the fact-finding committee constituted by PCI must come out with details of all those journalists and activists killed by terrorists at the behest of those colleagues who are part of the terror ecosystem in Kashmir.

Almost on regular basis, online content posted by vicious, blood-thirsty terrorists carries chilling lists of media persons and others who have to be killed. The inputs for these lists are provided by local self-proclaimed journalists. The terrorists threaten. The journalist or activist is killed. This has been the pattern over the last few years.  Regarding the commotion directed against the Indian state post-August 5, 2019, the international media represented by local faces in Kashmir and the so-called Leftists and liberals in New Delhi have filed baseless, concocted reports unsubstantiated by evidence. Evidently, they consider that mud-slinging against the Indian state is enough.

We have no intention to defend the actions of the Administration in any way. The Administration has its own lacunae and flaws. It is a global phenomenon that the state administration everywhere has its share of black sheep. We are confronted with serious questions that have not been addressed for far too long. Mehbooba Mufti’s letter to Press Council of India has become the fortunate vehicle to bring these vital truths before the nation. The state has evidence that Mehbooba Mufti has links with terrorists and used them for electoral gains.

We are hopeful that the august three-member committee appointed by PCI will make a panoramic, comprehensive assessment of media functioning in Kashmir. We are ready to depose before the committee to prove our point with concrete evidences. We earnestly hope that the august three-member committee is not held hostage by the people who are being paid by the enemies of the state to demean and demonise India.

DISCLAIMER

The purpose of this write-up is not to insinuate or claim that the journalists against whom the police action was initiated should be regarded as guilty. The purpose of the write-up is to state that Kashmir is a conflict region. India is fighting a war on terror. J&K Police, the Army and the para-military forces and security are dealing with a malevolent enemy across the border. Pakistan routinely uses everything at its disposal to bleed India. In this context, actions taken by the state and its arms, and the investigation or enquiry into suspicious activity cannot be viewed in simplistic terms of so-called attacks on freedom of the press.

 

LOOK WHO’S CLAIMING VICTIMHOOD!

Duplicity Flourishing In The Name Of Journalism

If so-called journalists living in Kashmir are peddling fake narratives which challenge India’s sovereignty, then they cannot be regarded as journalists simply because they are writing for a media house. By aligning with the enemy nation, they are violating the trust of the society and the nation. Investigation into their activities cannot be labeled as violation of the freedom of the press. We are certain that the honourable Press Council of India will not place the freedom of the press above the law of the land.

India is facing a proxy war unleashed by Pakistan in Kashmir. India is fighting an onslaught of terror on its land by jihadi groups supported by Pakistan. The sole aim of these jihadi groups is to destabilize and break India. These jihadi groups work under the façade of religion to justify their evil machinations. They are using the instrument of religion to serve Pakistan’s political designs. This duplicity cannot be allowed to flourish in the name of journalism.

Perception management is key to success in a conflict region, where external forces are constantly seeking greater space to deepen their agenda. Pakistan uses so-called journalists, activists and academicians to malign India. It routinely keeps journalists on its payrolls worldwide to peddle its anti-India narrative.

Pakistan consistently attacks India through a disinformation flood. India must protect national interest by keeping a watch on those who drive the narrative globally and internationally. This may include keeping a watch on journalists, activists, academicians and the like. This is not an attack on freedom of the press. It is national security.

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