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PCI backing J&K curbs undemocratic: N. Ram

Former member of Press Council of India, G. Amarnath, THG Publications chairman N. Ram and Carnatic Singer T.M. Krishna at a press meet on Curbs on Media freedom in Kashmir in Chennai.

Former member of Press Council of India, G. Amarnath, THG Publications chairman N. Ram and Carnatic Singer T.M. Krishna at a press meet on Curbs on Media freedom in Kashmir in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

‘A dystopian vision of media freedom’

The action of the Press Council of India’s chairman supporting the government restriction on communication in Jammu and Kashmir was totally unjustified and provided a dystopian vision of media freedom, N. Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Group Publishing Private Limited, said.

Speaking at a meeting to condemn the PCI’s “undemocratic and unconstitutional move to endorse curbs on media freedom in Kashmir”, Mr. Ram said it was shocking that the PCI that is supposed to safeguard freedom of the press, independence of the press, freedom of journalists, had taken a position supporting the communication blockade in the Valley.

“What the PCI chairman did was totally unjustified, the opposite of what was intended to be done, it is a dystopian vision of press freedom. There has been some resistance from the media, but not enough. This concerns not only the news media but also citizens who stand for democratic rights and values embodied in the Constitution,” Mr. Ram said. “If I were him, I would consider it as a matter of honour to resign (as PCI Chairman) immediately,” he said, replying to a question.

T.M. Krishna, carnatic music singer, said the government of India had, through a systematic plan, shut down Kashmir, muzzled the people of Kashmir to ensure their voices are not heard. “This is a question of fundamental rights of the citizens of the country,” he said.

Tamil Nadu Women’s Coordination Committee Convenor, V. Geetha said, it was shocking that the PCI voluntarily said it will keep quiet on the issue. “The government can say don’t write, but you yourself saying you will keep quiet is a huge problem for democratic principles,” she said. Ms. Geetha said national interest was best served by a free, open and honest media.

“Truth is in the details. Only when journalists are allowed to go and report from Kashmir freely will all details come out. Never has this type of a blockade been there all these years when there were shutdown,” she added.

“Kashmir is a part of India, but my Right to move freely anywhere in India has been restricted. Also my Right to practise any profession has also been suffocated,” Ajeetha, advocate, Madras High Court said, detailing the Constitutional provisions that guarantees various rights to citizens of India that have been stifled since the abrogation of Article 370.

K. Amarnath, senior leader, Indian Journalists Union and former member of the PCI, said, “We will fight back within the Council and bring them back to sanity.”

Peer Mohammed of Alliance for Media Freedom, Nithyanand Jayaraman of Chennai Solidarity Group, D.S.R. Subash, Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists, and Mathi Maharaj of Pondicherry Union of Journalists also took part in the event.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 1:25:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pci-backing-jk-curbs-undemocratic-n-ram/article29271641.ece

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