Srinagar, June 15 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the new media policy has evoked sharp criticism from journalists.

Many have called it an attempt to kill the independence of journalists and media outlets operating the region, especially Kashmir.

Veteran journalist and former north India correspondent of BBC, Altaf Hussain said it is an attempt to browbeat the media so that they are not able to report facts.

“This is to kill the independence of media. There have been such attempts in the past as well. In these past 30 years, there would be so many occasions where we would annoy either the government or the militants and many of our colleagues lost their lives for it. We have resisted such pressures and guarded our own freedom. Now, it’s the time to show the same resolve to uphold truth,” he added.

Asem Mohiudin, founder and editor of weekly “The Legitimate”, said J&K’s media industry is under tremendous constraints and instead of bailing it out, more coercive laws are being enforced.

Since 2006, it is the third time that the authorities have changed its media policy. Ironically, all the times no responsible media entrepreneur or journalist is consulted for the framing of the policy. But later on the policy is never fully implemented hence it violates its own rules and laws… Now it has come up with another modified version. That only violates the ethics of professional journalism, he added.

Haroon Rashid, editor of a prominent Urdu daily published from Srinagar, said from the past three decades, journalists working in Kashmir have been facing suffocation. “This policy is not only dangerous but also one-sided, and nobody from the local media was taken into confidence during its framing,” he maintained.

The General Secretary of Kashmir Press Club, Ishfaq Tantray said the club members had an online meeting and a need was felt that all media organisations should come together for a joint mechanism to deal with the issue. “I see this media policy is a serious threat to press freedom in J&K and everybody needs to come forward and devise a joint response,” he said.

Safwat Zarger, who writes for Scroll, said nobody is against the idea of coming down on fake news or other unethical journalistic conduct, but this policy effectively leaves the judgment in the hands of bureaucrats, which is dangerous. “Such a policy is detrimental to the freedom of speech and expression and has no place in democratic framework,” Safwat Zarger added.

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