Five representative bodies of newspaper owners, editors, working journalists, photo journalists and video journalists on Friday denounced the government claim that restrictions on media had been lifted. They decided to suspend the publication of newspapers for Saturday in view of the insufficient number of curfew passes issued and continued attacks on media.
For the last two days no newspaper could hit the stands in Srinagar since the government withdrew curfew passes and banned the movement of journalists.
President Kashmir Press Association Ghulam Hassan Kaloo, President Press Guild of Kashmir, Bashir Ahmad Bashir, President of Kashmir Journalists Corps Ishfaqul Hassan, President of Kashmir Press Photographers Association Farooq Javed and President of Kashmir Video Journalists Association S. Tariq in a joint statement termed the government announcement as mere eye wash to counter the condemnation from journalist bodies at the national and international levels.
A joint statement issued by the five organisations said a joint meeting could not be held due to the restrictions. The members then held deliberations on the telephone and the issue of continued restrictions was discussed threadbare. The government’s discriminatory attitude towards Kashmir-based media persons — who were denied access to information and events — as against journalists from Delhi was also discussed.
“Curfew passes were cancelled, media persons were beaten and forced to remain in-doors and the government has the cheek to say that there were no restrictions,” the statement said, adding, “Even when the members of five organisations were discussing the situation, one senior journalist Riyaz Masroor was beaten and left with a fractured arm,” the statement said.
Though the government claimed that curfew passes were issued to Editors of the newspapers and few accredited journalists, the statement said it was only to deceive those national and international bodies who had extended solidarity to hundreds of Kashmiri journalists who continue to be under siege.
Few passes; movement restricted
“It is not the Editor who can bring out a newspaper. There are other people — people involved with desk-top printing, lay-out designing, printing, distribution — who make the publication possible. Issuing a few curfew passes is not going to help publication,” the statement said.
The statement also said members of the newspaper staff who were stuck in different curfew-hit areas are unable to report due to passes not reaching them. Similarly the working journalists are facing problems in moving to offices and other places to get information.
Deliberating upon these issues, the statement said it was not humanly possible to publish and then circulate the newspapers given the restrictions and therefore there would be no newspaper on Saturday too.
The statement also said that members of all five organisations will have another meeting on Saturday to review the situation and chalk out the future strategy accordingly.
Senior journalist beaten-up
Even as the authorities claimed to have issued a few curfew passes to media persons in Kashmir, a senior journalist was severely beat up by the police on Friday.
Riyaz Masroor, a senior journalist working with the Urdu service of BBC, claimed he was beaten up by police outside his Alocha Bagh residence here.
“I received a phone call from the Information Department this morning asking me to come and collect the fresh curfew passes. As soon as I reached near the main road, policemen stopped me and beat me up ruthlessly,” he said.
He said he has received multiple injuries and his left arm has been fractured in the assault.
Condemning the attack, journalist organisations expressed solidarity with all the media persons who were brutalised during these days by armed forces.