Kashmir Press Club closure worst kind of state heavy handedness: Editors Guild

Updated on Jan 18, 2022 08:31 PM IST

The Editors Guild said the move to take back the premises allotted to the largest journalists’ body in the Valley was the "latest act in a sequence of disturbing events".

Media personnel assemble outside the Kashmir Press Club building after the Jammu and Kashmir government took back the premises, in Srinagar.(PTI)
Media personnel assemble outside the Kashmir Press Club building after the Jammu and Kashmir government took back the premises, in Srinagar.(PTI)
By, New Delhi

The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday expressed its deep anguish at the shutting down of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) in Jammu and Kashmir, a region, it said, that has seen the “worst kind of state heavy handedness against any independent media".

Issuing its second statement in three days since the Jammu and Kashmir administration said the KPC had “ceased to exist” and took back the premises allotted to the largest journalists’ body in the Valley, the Guild said the move was the "latest act in a sequence of disturbing events".

The administration's move was preceded by a "shocking breach of institutional norms when a group of people, with the active support of state police and CRPF, took over the office and management of the Club" last Saturday, the Guild said.

“The shutting down of the club is the latest act in a sequence of disturbing events, wherein the 're-registration' of the Club was first arbitrarily put ‘in abeyance’ by the Registrar of Societies on January 14th, followed by the shocking breach of institutional norms when a group of people, with the active support of state police and CRPF, took over the office and management of the Club on January 15th,” it said.

The Guild added that with the closure of the KPC, an important journalistic institution in a region that has seen the worst kind "state heavy handedness against any independent media has been effectively dismantled".

Established in 2018, the Kashmir Press Club has more than 300 members, making it the largest journalists' association in the region.

"Space for media freedom and active civil society has been steadily eroding in the region. Journalists frequently face intimidation from terror groups as well as the state. They are also charged under heavy penal laws, and are routinely detained by security forces for reporting or for their editorials," read the statement.

It also highlighted the killing of Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir, by "unknown people" besides the spate of cases filed by the police against journalists and photographers who were even charged with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

(With inputs from agencies)

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