Taking suo-moto cognizance on the complaint of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti regarding “harassment and intimidation” of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, the Press Council of India (PCI) has constituted a 3-member fact-finding committee and has asked the Union Territory (UT) administration to “extend full cooperation to the committee”.
The PCI Chairman ordered that “the fact-finding committee is required to make a thorough probe into the matter holding discussion with the concerned authorities and the affected journalists and collect such information as it deems fit to submit its report to the Council at the earliest”.
The PCI ordered that the committee shall regulate its own procedure. Members of the committee are; Prakash Dubey (convenor), group editor Dainik Bhaskar, Gurbir Singh (New Indian Express) and Dr Suman Gupta, editor, Jan Morcha.
Reacting to setting up of the committee, Mehbooba thanked the PCI for constituting the Fact-Finding Committee. “Thankful to the @PressCouncil for their decision to constitute a fact-finding committee to probe journalists being harassed in J&K. Hope the local administration ensures their full co-operation so that this committee can discharge its duty,” tweeted Mehbooba.
On Monday, Mehbooba wrote letters to PCI and Editors Guild of India on the “intimidation, snooping and harassment” of journalists in J&K alleging that reporting truth is being criminalized in J&K.
“I strongly believe that the journalists working and reporting in J&K are amongst the bravest in the world especially at a time when a large section of the Indian media has become a propaganda extension of the central government. The hostile environment that they operate in with frequent curfews, encounters, hartals and other adverse security situations has not weakened their determination to ensure that truth doesn’t become a casualty”, she wrote in the letter.
She wrote to the PCI that after the abrogation of Article 370, the journalist community in J&K has been subjected to “harrowing experiences”. Raids were conducted by police at homes of several journalists earlier this month and personal items such as electronic gadgets, including phones and laptops were “illegally” seized along with ATM cards and passports of their spouses, Mehbooba alleged.