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

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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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At Live Wire: Lack of training, safety gear bringing more deaths to PDD employees

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Sep 22: Lack of training and reluctance to use the safety gear is bringing more deaths to the Power Development Department (PDD employees by electrocution in Kashmir Valley.
Official reports reveal that since 2014, more than 70 PDD employees and contractual labourers died on-duty due to electric shocks.
More than 25 people have become disabled and while 30 others have sustained severe burn due to electric shocks in the same period.
In the last two weeks, two deaths have been reported in Anantnag district alone.
On September 2, two employees of PDD where repairing a snapped conductor in the morning when it came into contact with a live, overlying feeder due to which one person died on spot and other received burn injuries.
In yet another incident on September 14, a 29-year-old man in Anantnag district was installing an electric transformer when he got electrocuted, and the person assisting him received burns.
An official in the PDD, who wished to be anonymous, said the main reason of the accidents was the department’s recruitment policy.
“The department is hiring men on contract based for installing poles and LT (Low Tension) and HT (High Tension) lines. They do not have proper training of the field due to which the incidents occur,” he said.
Earlier, he said, the department used to give proper training to the men responsible for field work.
The other reason was the unavailability of safety tools for the men working on poles, he said.
The department provides compensation to the families of electrocuted and injured workers from the welfare fund but that is not enough for them, he said.
The workers who suffer serious injuries at work may be unable to bear the medical expenditure, even as many have become permanently disabled.
The president of the PDD employees association, Zahoor Ahmad, said, “A daily wager from Eidgah area lost both his arms due to electric shock. He has to live with a lifelong disability.”
“The LT poles that are installed by the department should have only LT network, but unfortunately one pole have two to three feeders installed that is life threatening.”
He also claimed that department does not provide sophisticated equipment to the workers.
“No worker will risk his life and go without wearing safety equipment, if is available,” he said.
Chief Engineer PDD, Qazi Hashmat, said, “Sub-divisions are well equipped with safety gear like helmets, gloves, and boots, but having them in our division is not enough. We have to build among our employees the culture of actually using them.”
“People get very casual and take chances, and the accidents happen.”
He said they have made people well aware of fatal deaths due to electric shocks. Moreover they have shown them how people die due to electrocution so that they would get to know about it.
“We are working very hard to bring the culture of wearing proper safety measures. We are also trying to train our employees.”

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JK MLAs are among most paid legislators in India

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Sep 22: The average annual income of Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in Jammu and Kashmir is nearly Rs 13 lakh, a study by National Election Watch (NEW) and Association of Democratic Reforms stated.
The sum is more than what the legislators in, at least, 11 other states get including New Delhi, where the annual income of an MLA is Rs 9.3 lakh.
As per the study, the data collecting NGOs have analysed the annual income of almost 57 MLAs in the state. The remaining 30 have not revealed their income.
The total annual income of the MLAs in Jammu and Kashmir adds up to Rs 7.25crore.
Karnataka, as per the study, has the richest MLAs in India, with its 203 MLAs having an annual income of Rs one crore each.
The average annual income of MLAs in India is Rs 24.59 lakh.
Sixty-three MLAs of the Chhattisgarh Assembly have the lowest annual income of about Rs 5 lakh.
The states where the MLAs have lower income compared to Jammu and Kashmir include Bihar, Jharkhand, Odhisa, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunchal Pradesh, Tripura, and Pondicherry.
The study has also mentioned about the valley’s two MLAs including National Conference leader Nazir Ahamd Gurezi and Peoples Democratic Party’s Noor Muhammad Sheikh, who have an income of below Rs 60,000 per month.
Government recently in June doubled the salaries and allowances of legislators (both MLAs and MLCs) from Rs 80,000 per month to Rs 1.6 lakh per month.
It included a massive hike in the salaries of the Chief Minister, Ministers, and Ministers of State.
It also increased pension of former legislators from Rs 28,000 per month to Rs 50,000 per month, which too was close to the 100 per cent hike.
The erstwhile report of NEW in January this year mentioned that former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah owned property worth less than Rs 65 lakh.
While Mufti has declared her movable assets of worth Rs 10,96,854 and Rs 45,00,000 immovable assets, Omar assets include Omar assets include Rs 1.10 lakh in cash, bank balance and deposits worth Rs 46.59 lakh, gypsy and motorcycle valued Rs 3 lakh and jewellery worth Rs 15 lakh.

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Govt seals 170 illegal clinics across Kashmir

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Srinagar, Sep 22: On the directions of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan, Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) has sealed 170 illegal and un-authorized clinics across the valley.
Consequent upon the daily reports received by the Divisional Commissioner office, regarding the operating of un-authorized clinical establishments in different areas across Kashmir Division, the Divisional Commissioner had already directed all Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) to constitute teams comprising of members from Health Services and Revenue department to conduct daily inspection of all clinical establishments and diagnostic labs across the valley including Leh and Kargil districts.
He had also directed them to take necessary action against such establishments which are operating in violation of rules, norms, laws and without licenses or run by incompetent persons in all districts.

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