Friday, April 09, 2021
SRINAGAR: Indian Police in occupied Kashmir have asked journalists to avoid live coverage of gun battles with armed men fighting against Indian rule in disputed valley or protests.
India has deployed tens of thousands of police and soldiers to keep the peace in the disputed Muslim-majority region after revoking its constitutional autonomy in 2019 to weld the region more tightly to the country.
In an order this week, the police chief in occupied Kashmir sets out new guidelines for journalists covering attacks.
"No operational content should be carried which is likely to incite violence or contains anything against maintenance of law and order, or which promotes anti-national sentiment," police chief Vijay Kumar said.
Media were advised to stay away from the site of gunbattles or situations that shaped as a challenge to law and order, and not engage in live coverage, he added.
Kumar said journalists' right to freedom of speech and expression was subject to reasonable curbs, so as not to endanger the lives of others or compromise national security.
"Do not interfere in the professional and bonafide duty of police and security forces at encounter sites," he said.
In the past, police have said the presence of television cameras and journalists at trouble spots in Kashmir often encouraged people to come out in the streets and break the law by throwing stones.
But journalists said the new rules were meant to coerce them into not reporting.
"Press freedom is the cornerstone of a democracy and any attack on it undermines the democratic setup of which media is the fourth pillar," the Kashmir Press Club said in a statement.
"Any such attack on press freedom and journalism is highly distressful."