Scribes and editors associated with the J&K Media Association and the J&K Media Guild held a street protest in Srinagar on Monday against the J&K Media Policy-2020 and demanded its roll back.
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“The new media policy, unfortunately and brazenly, underlines that every report is to be vetted by the police first. This is nothing but an attempt at censorship. The journalist fraternity in Kashmir has lost so many lives in the past 30 years of conflict to uphold journalistic values. The policy is unfair and should be revoked,” Rashid Rahi, chief editor of CNS Kashmir, a wire service, told The Hindu .
Mr Rahi said it was ironic that on the one hand the BJP government claimed revocation of Article 370 had ended two constitution systems in India but on the other hand brought in a separate media policy for J&K. “This smacks of duplicity,” he added.
The protesting members of media organisations, who assembled at Srinagar’s Press Enclave, were carrying banners reading ‘Don’t gag media’ and ‘Down with Media Policy-2020’.
“The media policy will reduce journalism to becoming a mouthpiece of the government, as the police are likely to lodge FIR in every case of inconvenient reportage,” a reporter at the rally said.
CPI (M) leader M. Y. Tarigami supported the journalists’ demand for a roll back of the policy.
“The new media policy has spread unease amongst the journalists working in the region as it is aimed at gagging their voice in J&K,” he said.
He said under the new policy, journalists will not be answerable to their readers and editors “but to bureaucrats and security officials”.
“The officials will decide what are ‘fake’, ‘unethical’, ‘plagiarised’ or ‘anti-national’ reports,” Mr. Tarigami said.
J&K Apni Party (JKAP) leader Ghulam Hassan Mir urged the government “to go for a review of new media policy in consultation with representatives of the print, online and electronic media outlets in J&K.”
The controversial media policy was introduced in May this year.