While terming new media policy for Jammu and Kashmir as an attempt to throttle freedom of speech and expression, CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami Sunday said it has spread unease amongst the journalists working in the region.
The framers of this policy have given a clear picture that they don’t want journalists answerable to their readers and editors, but to bureaucrats and security officials, who will have the powers to decide which news item is “fake, unethical, plagiarized” or “anti-national”. The policy has been framed with an aim to give the government a free hand to muzzle freedom of press.
This is the first time that a government has come up with a policy that authorizes its own officers to decide on what is “fake news” and proceed against journalists and media organizations. Overtly and covertly media persons have been pressurized in Kashmir for long, but since August 5 last year, attempts to muzzle the freedom of press by the authorities have been on rise.
The new media policy is part of the pattern that journalists have been witnessing since August last. Authorities use a mix of harassment, intimidation, surveillance and online information control to silence critical voices and force journalists to self-censorship. The J&K administration’s ideas of democratic governance are very different from what the Constitution of India promises.
The new media policy must be rolled back and the government must immediately stop intimidation of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir. A free media can help the government take the right actions more effectively than sunshine stories.