Forcible takeover of KPC by IIOJK authorities denounced

Srinagar, January 18 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, political leaders and journalists bodies have strongly condemned the authorities for taking over the Kashmir Press Club.

The IIOJK authorities on Monday cancelled the registration of the Kashmir Press Club and handed over the building to the Estates Department.

Peoples Democratic Party President, Mehbooba Mufti, in a tweet, said that the crisis in the Kashmir Press Club seemed to be orchestrated in order to shut down the institution which had served as a medium for journalists to debate and discuss issues freely.

Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) Secretary, Ghulam Nabi Malik, strongly criticized the authorities for the unwarranted action. “The press/media in Jammu and Kashmir is already working under immense stress and strain. Professional journalists strongly feel that it has become impossible for them to do normal reportage. Journalists have to be encouraged to perform their task without being under duress,” he said.

The General Secretary of the ousted managing body of the Kashmir Press Club, Ishfaq Tantray, in a statement said that by this action, the authorities wanted to stifle the voice of journalists that resonated through the KPC, the only democratic and independent journalist body in the Valley. He reiterated that the Kashmiri journalists will confront these challenges.

Shopian Working Journalists’ Association in a statement deplored the authorities’ decision to cancel the allotment of the premises to the KPC. It termed the move as authoritarian and another attempt to stifle the voice of journalists.

Meanwhile, the Indian Journalists Union in a statement condemning the authorities’ move said the KPC has been vocal on media issues. It maintained that sustained harassment and intimidation of journalists in the Kashmir Valley smack of vendetta and brazen attempt to silence dissenting voices.

The Editors Guild of India in a statement said it is deeply anguished by the shutting down of the Kashmir Press Club by authorities. “With the shutting down of the Club and government reverting the land back to the Estates Department, an important journalistic institution in a region that has seen the worst kind state heavy handedness against any independent media, has been effectively dismantled,” it said.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called upon the IIOJK authorities to reverse the move of shutting down the Kashmir Press Club.

“Suspending Kashmir Press Club’s registration and taking over its premises is the latest move by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to prevent journalists from doing their jobs,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington. “Jammu and Kashmir authorities should immediately allow the Kashmir Press Club to resume operations and stop its repeated harassment of journalists in the territory,” he added.