Slamming the Press Council of India for failing to protect press freedom in the country, journalist unions have called for withdrawal of the curbs placed on the media in Kashmir. Their protests come in the context of the PCI’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court justifying the government’s actions, citing overriding concerns of national security.
“The Press Council of India had been constituted to uphold the neutrality and independence of journalism in India. However, under the prevailing circumstances its role has also come under shadow by acting as an organ of the government,” said a statement issued jointly by the Press Association, Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, and the Editor’s Guild.
All four organisations have called for a public meeting in the capital on Tuesday to demand that the government “immediately restore conditions in Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate gathering and relay of news by all media personnel; the restrictions on Internet and telecommunications should be removed, and the journalists be permitted safe and independent travel to report on the ground situation in the State.” They noted that reporters have been arrested and roughed up by security personnel, and accused the government of preventing the media from reporting on the real ground situation in the Valley.
Protest in Chennai
Journalists in Chennai will also hold a protest meeting at the Madras Reporters’ Guild on Tuesday, to be addressed by N. Ram, chairman of The Hindu Publishing Group and president of the Alliance for Media Freedom, as well as prominent citizens including Carnatic singer T.M. Krishna and V. Geetha of the Tamil Nadu Women’s Coordination Committee.
Other organisations joining the protest include the Chennai Solidarity Group, Centre of Media Persons for Change, Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists and the Network of Women in Media.
“Rather than pushing for access to all parts of Kashmir and protection and safety of media persons, the Council has made itself subservient to the ruling dispensation. This does not bode well for India,” they said in a joint statement.