Srinagar, Jan 26: Authorities in Kashmir Saturday barred several senior journalists from covering the main Republic Day event at SK Cricket Stadium here.
The move triggered widespread criticism and protest from the fellow scribes and photojournalists, who staged a protest against it and boycotted covering the proceedings of the event.
President, Kashmir Press Club, Shuja Ul Haq said that the government barred several senior journalists from covering the event. “The government had made a separate list of these journalists who were eventually stopped from covering the event,” said Shuja, who was part of the protest.
“The government shall tell us the reasons why senior journalists were not allowed to cover the event. Was anything adverse against them? We are being barred from doing our professional duties,” he said, adding they will also submit a memorandum to the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir about the issue.
After the selected journos were barred, the other scribes, who had gone to cover the event, boycotted the function.
They also carried out a protest march from Kashmir Press Club to Ghanta Ghar in Lalchowk here.
The protesting journalists were carrying the placards that read: “Journalism is not a crime. Blacklist us all. You can’t muzzle our voice”.
Tauseef Mustafa, senior photojournalist with the Agence France Presse (AFP), who was barred from covering the event, said that despite them carrying security passes issued by the police through the Department of Information, the forces personnel guarding the venue had a separate list of names of journalists to be barred from covering the event.
“This is for the first time in 28 years of my professional career that I was not allowed to cover any event,” Touseef said.
Senior journalist and ‘Greater Kashmir’ photo editor Habib Naqash, who was among those barred, too said that it was for the first time in his career spanning over several decades that such an incident has taken place.
He said that around a dozen journalists, including senior photographer Mehraj ud Din of Associated Press Television News (APTN), were not issued security passes for the function.
“Around five journalists were not allowed to cover the function despite producing the security passes,” Naqash said.
As per Kashmir Editors Guild, the senior photo-journalists, who had gone to cover the event were not allowed by the forces personnel on the pretext that police has received “adverse CID report” against them. Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Syed Abid Rashid said the journalists should have informed him about the issue.
“I would have sorted out the issue on the spot,” he said. Divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan asked media fraternity to submit the memorandum to him. “I will seek a detailed report from IGP Kashmir, S P Pani over the issue,” he said.
KEG condemns, demands action
Srinagar, Jan 26: Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) has strongly condemned the action of the ‘security’ grid for not allowing senior journalists to cover the Republic Day parade that was held at the SK Stadium here on Saturday. A KEG spokesman said that the senior journalists were stopped at the main gate of the venue by ‘security’ personnel and were not allowed to move inside despite carrying valid security passes provided to them by the authorities. “Senior photojournalists who had gone to cover the event were not allowed by the security men on the pretext that police has got adverse verification report against them,” the spokesman said. He said the action by the ‘security’ men on the ground “suggests that the security establishment wishes to frighten the media by not allowing them to carry out their professional duties.” “Today’s incident provides a grim reminder yet again about the fact that how vulnerable the media is in an area that is riddled with conflict and lawlessness,” the KEG spokesman said. It added that the stopping of journalists from carrying out their duties is becoming a norm these days as the journos were also stopped from covering an event on Thursday in Baramulla. “Even security passes against senior journalists were not issued by the security establishment for today’s R-day event. The way things are going ahead it is in no way going to help in creating a free and independent institution of media in the state,” the spokesman said. While strongly condemning the incident, KEG called for strong action against the officials involved in Saturday’s act. “KEG demands that the state government should take stringent action against the police officers who sought to muzzle the press and take steps to create a situation where media can function freely and discharge its duty to the citizens by providing information on the happenings in the state. KEG also demands the details of the so called adverse reports that the police claims it has collected against the senior scribes.”
Issue will be looked into: Adv Kumar
Jammu, Jan 26: Advisor to Governor, K Vijay Kumar Saturday said that the issue of some senior journalists not being permitted to cover the Republic Day function in Srinagar would be “looked into”. He said the entire process of security clearance for issuance of passes to journalists shall be reviewed for better coordination in future. “It is learnt that today at Republic Day parade venue in Srinagar, some journalists were not permitted to cover the event as the security passes issued to them were found not to be authenticated. The matter shall be looked into,” Advisor Kumar, who is Incharge Home Department, said in a statement. He said it has been given to understand that primarily the incident occurred because of the procedure followed by the police for issuance of security passes during such events. “The entire process of such security clearance shall be reviewed for better coordination in future,” he said.