The Editors Guild of India has expressed anguish over the shutting down of the Kashmir Press Club. It said the government had effectively dismantled an important journalistic institution of the region that has seen the worst kind of state heavy-handedness against any independent media.
The Guild cautioned that it would set a dangerous precedent. The action was the latest in a sequence of disturbing events, wherein the “re-registration” of the Club was first arbitrarily put “in abeyance” by the Registrar of Societies on January 14, followed by the shocking breach of institutional norms when a group of people, with the active support of the police and the CRPF, took over the office and management of the Club on January 15.
Largest journalists association
The Club, established in 2018, had more than 300 members, making it the largest journalists association in the region. Space for media freedom and active civil society, the Guild said, had been steadily eroding in the region. Journalists frequently faced intimidation from terror groups as well as the State. They were also charged under heavy penal laws and routinely detained by security forces for reporting or for their editorials.
“The shutting down of the Club therefore sets a dangerous precedent for media freedom. The Guild reiterates its earlier demand that status quo before the January 14th order of Registrar of Societies be restored with respect to the functioning of the Club, and that the state works towards building and protecting the space for a free press,” a Guild statement read.