The Press Association, an association of accredited journalists in India, has slammed the PCI for taking a “unilateral” action concerning the matter of maintaining freedom of the press in Kashmir.
PCI asked permission from the Supreme Court to intervene in the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, editor of Kashmir Times. This petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin demands the end of the communication blockade in Kashmir post abrogation of the Articles 370 and 35A. PCI said the media clampdown is in “national interest” backing the media clampdown in Kashmir, claiming it to be necessary to “protect the integrity and sovereignty of the nation.”
Two members of PCI, who are also the members of Press Association told The Wire, that they had in fact not even been consulted in this matter. Even though there was a meeting about the prevailing situation in Kashmir, they said that the matter of the writ petition was not even mentioned, let alone consulted with.
Jaishankar Gupta is president of the association and C.K. Nayak is the general secretary. In a written statement, they uncovered that the full council met on August 22 for the entire day but there was “no mention” of the writ petition.
They claimed that the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin was in fact in accordance with the two main objectives of the PCI- maintaining freedom of the press, and upholding standards of journalism. Considering that no newspaper could function, nor any agency since August 5, the PCI should not have intervened with this petition.
Anuradha Bhasin’s petition demands the immediate relaxation of all restrictions on mobile, internet and landline services; relaxation of restrictions on the free movement of journalists and media personnel in the state.
Calling PCI’s intervention backing media limitations “a shameful abdication of its responsibilities,” Krishna Prasad had called out at the move, saying it was an irresponsible stand by the council which is intended to uphold the integrity of journalism.
“If the Press Council – set up by an act of parliament i.e. in the name of the people – sees a free and open media as a threat to the nation’s ‘sovereignty’, and if it believes readers and viewers can and ought to be kept in the dark in special situations, it is a sad day for Indian democracy, although it would not surprise anybody that things have come to such a pass,” he told The Wire on Friday.