Kashmir police strong-arm responsible newspapers
Last week, amid unrest in India-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 people, a newspaper that I visited a year ago was raided by Indian police.
Like 99% of such raids by authorities on media outlets, this one is unjustified.
According to the BBC, “Police seized printing plates and thousands of editions overnight on Friday. Cable television is also reported to have been shut down… "The clamp-down was necessitated as Pakistani channels that are beamed here through cable television network have launched a campaign aimed at fomenting trouble here," an unnamed Jammu and Kashmir government minister told the Reuters news agency.
"Some newspapers were also sensationalising the violence... We will take a decision on [their] restoration after 19 July."
The Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir and the Kashmir Observer, are among the titles who said they were affected.” (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36815815)
A have read Greater Kashmir, and have found it to be anything but inflammatory. The same can be said of Rising Kashmir, a fine newspaper that if anything is the opposite of inflammatory of sensationalizing. I was so impressed with their work that I used Rising Kashmir as an example of peace journalism in action in my upcoming textbook Peace Journalism Principles and Practices.
This is what I wrote about my visit with the Rising Kashmir staff in 2015:
|AT Rising Kashmir, 2015|
“Editor Shujaat Bukhari and I seemed to agree on the principles of balance and objectivity offered by the peace journalism approach. The reporters asked pointed questions about subjective terms like massacre and martyr. I suggested that if reporters use these words, they lose their objectivity…
Overall, I admire the work done by Rising Kashmir in not sensationalizing or irresponsibly reporting the news here under extremely difficult circumstances. They can certainly teach their colleagues in New Delhi a thing or two about responsible journalism. (Peace Journalism Insights, Aug 6, 2015)”
Authoritarian governments everywhere use raids and arrests to intimidate journalists. A quick perusal of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website (cpj.org) shows such raids occur regularly in places like Somaliland, Mexico, Turkey, and so on. So while journalists and their supporters should be alarmed by strong arm tactics like those on display in Indian-controlled Kashmir, we certainly shouldn’t be surprised.
The Center for Peace Journalism calls on the Indian government to immediately re-open these vital publications and cease their harassment of reporters who are doing nothing more than their jobs.