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KEG urges PCI: Issue detailed report about journalists killed in Kashmir




Srinagar, July 4: Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) Wednesday asked the visiting team of Press Council of India (PCI) to utilise its resources and issue a detailed report about the journalists who were killed in Kashmir during the last 30 years.
The editors said ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor, Shujaat Bukhari, one of the most prominent journalists, was brutally assassinated and his killers must be brought to justice. They said his journalism was flawless.
KEG said the routine wreath laying and glowing tributes to the fallen journalists in Kashmir will not help the shocked media fraternity unless the PCI utilises its enormous resources and unmatched influence to issue a detailed report about every single murder of the journalists in Kashmir.
The report must start with the assassination of Shujaat and get into every single murder since 1990. The report must offer some sort of detail about why they were killed.
The editors said that when a journalist is killed in Kashmir, there are condemnations and obituaries – coming from all sides, and it all stops at that. Though in all the murders, the police did register cases but not in a single case does the media fraternity know the follow up, as the cases are closed and forgotten.
Right now when everybody is genuinely concerned over why a prominent editor was gunned down, the appreciation was lacking when Shujaat was seeking his rights before the policymakers in Delhi after DAVP stopped advertisements to major publications across the state including Rising Kashmir.
KEG, however, appreciated the PCI for being responsive in the first such killing since 1990. Kashmir has lost 14 journalists in turmoil and in Jammu one photographer was also killed.
Editors told the PCI that there was dire need for engagement between the institution of PCI and the journalists who are walking on razors edge almost on daily basis in Kashmir. The bigger crisis, they said, was to ensure the media in Kashmir survives with its credibility intact in wake of massive propaganda by the state apparatus and faceless individuals operating in the shady corners of internet.
Tragically, they pointed out that the PCI engagement with the media in Kashmir has three milestones so far. The first was when a group of editors were flown to Srinagar to rebut the reportage on Kunan mass rapes. The report that the three members of the PCI jotted down overnight was a decree against the Srinagar press corps and was used as a key document by the state in Srinagar and Delhi against the Kashmir media.
The editors reiterated – they had already stated the same in their earlier interactions with the PCI in 2017, that the PCI should either re-investigate the case and absolve Kashmir media of its alleged bias in its reportage of the incident or withdraw the report, the ‘Crisis and Credibility’.
The report, however, has not impacted the fairness and objectivity of the Kashmir media corps in covering a bleeding conflict. This, they said, is vindicated by the fact that everywhere across the globe when it comes to the coverage of a conflict, Kashmiri scribes will be covering it for international media outlets.
PCI’s second major engagement was in 2017, when the PCI team visited Srinagar and spent a good time in interactions with the governance structure, the peripheral reporters and the media in Srinagar. The objective of the prolonged visit was to investigate a few observations made by the Interlocutors on Kashmir – Dileep Padgoanker, Radha Kumar, M M Ansari, about the conduct of Kashmir media including the funding of media, their allegedly exaggerated circulation figures and other things. It was interesting that while Government of India binned the interlocutors report, the PCI found it as its top priority to investigate the observations.
But the KEG is thankful that the report that was made public by the PCI later 2017 investigated these observations and reduced the weight of blatantly unsubstantiated and baseless allegations heaped on Kashmir media by the vested interests.
Now, as the three member PCI team is visiting the state, it is yet another investigation – this time probing how and why Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated. On the assassination, the KEG said they know as much as the police revealed.
KEG told the PCI will have to increase its engagements with the journalists embattled in conflict and bloody situations. They suggested them to put their weight behind the rightful demands of the Jammu and Kashmir media in getting their rights which have been denied to them without any reason for last many years.
This blockages, they said, is aimed at hitting the viability of the operations of the print industry in the state. KEG also suggested that the PCI will have to be quick and fast in responding to the tensions the media faces in Srinagar and in urgent cases it can take suo moto cognizance of the events which revolve round the physical safety and professional requirement of the journalists operation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Admitting that the media in Kashmir was in dire straits, the PCI team said they will be quick in addressing the issues pertaining to the state. They asked Srinagar media to strongly react to the efforts by the police or any other security agency that is aimed at interrupting the news gathering and dissemination. PCI team said they will act strongly on issues as and when they reach PCI.

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Cable operators asked to stop airing ‘prohibited channels’



Srinagar, July 18: The Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered based cable operators to immediately shut the telecasting and transmitting the prohibited satellite channels in the Valley for ‘maintaining peace and tranquility.’

An order issued by the additional district commissioner (ADC), Srinagar, dated July 12, and was sent to all heads of cable operators in Srinagar.

The order accused the cable operators of “telecasting and transmitting unpermitted and banned private satellite channels within the jurisdiction of Srinagar district.”

“J&K government, home department, vide Ps/home/2018-60 dated July 2, 2018, has reported that you are telecasting and transmitting unpermitted and banned private satellite channels within Srinagar,” read the order.

“It has become necessary and expedient in the larger interest of public and maintenance of peace and tranquillity to prohibit (you) from transmitting non-permitted TV channels (which are not permitted by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting).”

The order also said now, therefore, in an exercise of powers conferred by section 19 of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 “you are hereby directed to immediately stop telecasting/transmitting non-permitted TV channels/banned private satellite channels within three days.”

The cable operators also have been asked to furnish the notarised affidavit before the ADC Srinagar. In case the cable operators fail to submit the affidavit, the order reads “action under the provision of CTN (regulation) act 1995 will be taken against you”.


KCC&I concerned, asked JK Govt to take up the matter with I&B

Srinagar, July 18: Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) Wednesday voiced concern at the prohibition on transmission of particular channels by the State.

The State Government has directed cable operators to stop transmission and telecast of around 30 channels.

“We have been given to understand that some of these channels may be prohibited by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. Most of these channels are predominantly religious or news channels with a huge following amongst the Muslim majority of Kashmir,” President KCC&I, Javid Ahmad Tenga said in a statement.

“In case it is felt that some channels are a threat to peace and tranquility of the State, they may be identified and banned, but we see no reason to prohibit the transmission of channels related to religion and news,” he said.

Tenga added that KCC&I shall also take up the issue with the I&B Ministry.

“In the meantime, the State Government needed to identify particular channels which pose a threat and the rest of the channels should be allowed to be transmitted. It needed to be appreciated that a large number of employment is generated in this sector and such prohibitions would adversely impact this sector. This also infringes upon the religious freedom of the majority community of our State and the State Government is requested to take up this issue with the I&B Ministry as well,” he said.

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Kathua case defence counsel appointed AAG: Mehbooba, Omar criticise decision



Srinagar, July 18: The Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed Aseem Sawhney, one of the defence lawyers in the Kathua rape and murder case, as an additional advocate general of the state, drawing criticism from former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

In an order issued on Tuesday, the state government appointed 31 advocates as additional advocates general, deputy advocates general and government advocates, with 15 in the Kashmir wing of the high court and 16 in the Jammu wing.

One the 16 names of law officers for the Jammu wing is Aseem Sawhney — one of the defence lawyers in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old nomad girl in Kathua.

Sawhney has been appointed as an additional advocate general.

The appointment has raised eyebrows. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti called it a “shocking violation” of the spirit of justice and alleged that it will encourage “rape culture”.

She also voiced hope that the Governor will intervene in the issue.

NC leader Omar Abdullah said the decision was both inexplicable and worrisome.

“Ironic that a day after celebrating World Day for International Justice, the defence counsel in the horrific rape & (and) murder Kathua case has been appointed as Additional Advocate General,” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.

“Rewarding those who defend alleged murderers & rapists is abhorrent & a shocking violation of the spirit of justice. Such a move will only serve to encourage the rape culture rampant in our society. Expect the @jandkgovernor to intervene,” she said in another tweet.

Reacting to the issue, Abdullah tweeted: “The decision is both inexplicable & worrisome but if the victim’s lawyer is not unduly concerned by this development the rest of us should just let her get on with the job of ensuring justice for the young victim.”

The brutal rape and murder of the girl belonging to a minority nomadic community, in a village close to Kathua in Jammu region had sparked outrage in the country. She had disappeared on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

According to the charge sheet, the victim was held in captivity at a small village temple where she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before she was bludgeoned to death.

The trial in the case began on May 31 with the seven accused being produced before the district and sessions judge after the Supreme Court transferred the case from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab for a fair trial following a plea by the victim’s family.

While transferring the case from Kathua to Pathankot, about 30 km away, the apex court directed day-to-day in-camera trial in the case.


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FUNDING CASE: NIA not ready to share details of protected witnesses: Report



New Delhi, July 18: After six accused were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in alleged funding case for over six years, there has been no respite for the accused, as the NIA Special Court kept the next hearing on September 6.

According to a senior NIA official, the lawyer of the accused had demanded details, including statements of witnesses.

As per a report by India Today, the NIA has shown its inability to share details of 23 witnesses, who they claimed were protected under Section 17 of the NIA Act, 2008.

The act provides protection of witnesses essentially stating that if the Special Court is satisfied that the life of such witness is in danger, it may take some measures to keeping the identity and address of such witness secret.

Six of the 12 accused had applied for bail, including separatist leaders Raja Mejhrajuddin Kalwal, Bitta Karate, Peer Saifullah, Shahid ul Islam, Akbar khanday and Altaf Fantoosh. Special NIA Judge Poonam Bamba who has been hearing the bail petition has put the next date of hearing after two months.

Businessman Zahoor Watali’s bail was rejected earlier by the court in June earlier this year. He was also not well and even asked for a walking stick to be provided to him.

In the Kashmir financing case of 2017, 12 men were named by the NIA, including Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin and JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed.

Meanwhile, sources said that Asiya Andrabi and two of her female associates, who have been arrested in sedition case, are likely to be soon questioned regarding their role in Kashmir funding case.

Though the organisation was named in the First Information Report (FIR), the anti-terror probe agency did not question the Dukhtaran-e-Milat chief.

Recently, the separatist women trio was sent for 30 day judicial custody in charges of sedition.

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