NEW YORK, Jan 29 (APP):The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog body, Tuesday called on Indian authorities to stop restricting press coverage of events in occupied Kashmir, after 10 journalists from local, national, and international media organizations were barred from covering a function marking India’s Republic Day in Srinagar on January 26.
Six of the 10 journalists were given media passes to the event but were then barred by police from attending because their names were included on a list of potential security threats; the other four were not granted passes at all, CPJ, the New York-based, said citing journalists who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity fearing further retaliation.
“Barring journalists from covering events in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of vague and unspecified allegations is an unreasonable restraint on the freedom of the press,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator, in Washington, D.C. said in a statement. “These kinds of restrictions on journalists only serve to undermine public trust at a time of heightened tensions in the region.”
Those who were granted credentials but then barred were Tauseef Mustafa of AFP, Danish Ismail Wani of Reuters, Mehraj ud Din and Umar Mehraj of The Associated Press, Bilal Ahmad Bhat of Indian news agency Asian News International, and Amaan Farooq from the Srinagar-based newspaper Greater Kashmir, according to media reports.
CPJ’s 1996 International Press Freedom Award winner and freelance columnist Yusuf Jameel, Ashraf Wani of Hindi news channel AajTak, Firdous Wani of English news channel NewsX, and Habib Naqash of Greater Kashmir were not granted credentials at all, according to the journalist who spoke to CPJ.
CPJ has been documenting continued violations of press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir over the last few months. Earlier this month, security forces fired pellet guns at photojournalists covering a clash between protestors and security forces. In October 2018, journalists were barred and assaulted while covering local elections, and in August, reporter Aasif Sultan was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir police and remains in prison.