Srinagar, April 15 : In Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, media freedom has always remained under threat considering the constant curbs, either through official or unofficial measures.
This was said in an editorial published in Srinagar-based web portal The Kashmir Walla. The editorial says that journalists have covered the ongoing resistance movement at the cost of their lives. It added that the freedom of the press has further deteriorated over the past two years.
“Media freedom has massively diminished in the aftermath of the 5 August 2019 decisions” by India in Kashmir, wherein new curbs are being put in place to further choke the freedom of the press. The editorial said that the latest move was an advisory given by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, last week, vowing that the media won’t be allowed to carry live reporting of the cordon and search operations carried out by Indian forces in the territory.
The editorial pointed out that the police chief’s latest order needs to be seen in the backdrop of the fake encounter in Shopian in July 2020 where three civilians, including a teenager, were killed by the Indian troops and passed off as “militants”. It maintained that the refusal of the Indian forces to identify the killed or hand over their bodies had already created an environment that enabled the army to kill civilians for money since there was nobody to ask questions.
“This latest diktat further eliminates any scope to question or seek accountability from the forces, who have already resorted to using unmarked vehicles and removing their name badges. This has directly enabled an atmosphere of impunity wherein a personnel or government vehicle involved in atrocity against civilians is sought to be given institutional cover,” the editorial said. Quoting victims, it added that during CASOs, countless examples of the forces were witnessed resorting to disproportionate force – killing and maiming civilian protesters, blowing up houses etc, all passed off as collateral damage. It referred to the encounter in the Nawakadal area of Srinagar 2020 as a case in point.
“In the last two years, we have already witnessed journalists being booked under anti-terror laws, summoned and interrogated by law enforcement agencies for their reporting, and even threatened multiple times,” the editorial said and advised the Indian occupational forces that if they do not “like what they read, it is perhaps best that they don’t commit those acts that journalists in turn report – there will be no criticism if there is no ill-deed.” The editorial asked New Delhi to reconsider its cash-for-kill policy that has long acted as an incentive and motive behind gruesome human rights violations of Kashmiris by the Indian forces.