People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti has urged the Press Council of India (PCI) to send a fact-finding team to look into the “painful” plight of journalists operating in Jammu and Kashmir. Mufti wrote a letter to PCI saying a large section of the media has become a propaganda extension of the government, and the hostile environment that the journalists operate in with frequent curfews, encounters, hartals and other adverse situations has not weakened their determination.
She enclosed a copy of a questionnaire that was served to the journalists who are being currently investigated by the state.
Mufti also referred to the raids that were conducted by the police at homes of several journalists in Kashmir earlier this month. She said personal items such as mobile phones and laptops were illegally seized along with ATM cards and passports of their spouses.
“This comes close on the heels of the harrowing experiences that the journalist community in Jammu and Kashmir has been subject to post the abrogation of Article 370… In a democratic set up, a free and independent press is crucial and essential for government institutions to function in a transparent manner with due accountability towards its citizens,” she said.
Mufti said 23 journalists have been put on Exit Control list (ECL). Even students who bagged scholarships in prestigious colleges are not being allowed to study there.
The PDP chief noted that reporting truth to power is being criminalised with every passing day.
“I strongly believe that the journalists working and reporting in J&K are amongst the bravest in the world,” she said.
Taking a dig at PCI, she said she hoped that it would take a suo moto note of the widely reported incidents but it seems no established watchdog forum, including the courts has taken any interest in the circumstances created in J&K.