There have been FIRs and questioning of journalists by police for publishing ‘fake news’.
Srinagar: After a series of high-level meetings, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has approved a new media policy—Media Policy-2020—with an aim to create a “sustained narrative on the functioning of the government in media”. The media, especially the international media, has been very critical of the UT administration’s functioning, especially its dealing with journalists.
This comes after the recent FIRs and questioning of journalists by police for trying to “fix them” for publishing “fake news”. Kashmir-based journalists and editors have blamed the government for stifling press freedom.
“We have seen the new policy of the media drafted by the government. The managing committee of Kashmir Press Club (KPC) will sit and analyse it. After deep analysis, we will come up with our reaction. Maybe, we will suggest some changes in the draft and will request for some fresh inclusions,” Shuja-ul-Haq, President of Kashmir Press Club, told The Sunday Guardian. He said that in the backdrop of previous incidents of journalists being summoned by police and harassed, the KPC will try to contribute to the change in mindset of police and other wings of the government for better coordination.
A senior government functionary who was part of drafting the new media policy told this reporter that the basic aim is to arrest misinformation, fake news and raise alarm against any attempt to use the media to vitiate public peace, sovereignty and integrity of the country. He said that the government and its intelligence wings have credible inputs that some forces from outside were trying to use acrimony between administration and journalists to fan separatist fire in Kashmir.
The media policy has been framed in the backdrop of J&K Police filing FIRs against two journalists of Kashmir and summoning several others for their reporting and social media posts, which cyber police found objectionable. These two journalists have been booked under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in April. However, they have not been arrested.
Last month, the editor of a local news portal, The Kashmir Walla, was summoned and questioned for reporting about alleged police misconduct during an encounter in Srinagar in which three civilians were killed and about 15 houses damaged.
“The key highlight of the policy is that it lays down a solid foundation to use all forms of media to build public trust, pay attention to grievances of people projected by the media and strengthen the relationship between the various stakeholders,” according to a statement issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR).
The administration said the policy will aid the government to carry the message of “welfare, development and progress to the people in an effective manner”, and will bridge the gap between local media and government.