Srinagar, Apr 7: Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar today asked media persons not to interfere in professional and bonafide duty of police and security forces at encounter sites and during law and order situations and various media bodies have termed it coercion.
He advised media persons not to come closer to the encounter site and law and order situation and do not carry any live coverage of any encounter and law and order situation.
“The freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions that should not violate other people’s right to life guaranteed under Article 21 or putting the national security in jeopardy,” he said.
“Do not interfere in professional and bonafide duty of police and security forces at the encounter site. No operational content should be carried which is likely to incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law & order or which promotes anti national sentiment,” IGP added.
And media bodies expressed anguish over IGP’s advisory saying that it appears to be a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground.
The statement issued by Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK), Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA), Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA), Kashmir News Television Journalist Association (KNTJA), Kashmir Video Journalists Association (KVJA), Kashmir Press Club (KPC), Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA), Anjuman Urdu Sahafat, Kashmir Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), Jammu and Kashmir Press Association (JKPA) and JK Editors Forum (JKEF) said that the advisory has created anguish among the media fraternity.
”If this is a part of the official policy of 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”, the statement said.
“Journalists in Kashmir have worked under tremendous pressure for the past several decades and despite facing threats to life, liberty and property, they upheld the principles of journalism and reporting”, the statement added.
“The media in Kashmir are aware of the journalistic guidelines and ethics or situations like encounters, law and order situations and have always upheld these principles. Covering and reporting law and order situations in the region is one of the basic requirements for most news organisations and hence an essential part of the professional role of media professionals. Barring them from covering such events would mean stopping them from delivering their professional duties”, it said.
“Press freedom is the cornerstone of a democracy and any attack on it undermines the democratic setup of which media is the fourth pillar. Any such attack on press freedom and journalism is highly distressful,” it added.