Jammu Tawi (J&K) 22nd April, 2020 : ‘The Journalists (Media) are worst hit in J&K today by the Administration under President Rule. The Printing & Electronic Media has been suffocating under President’s Rule in Jammu & Kashmir. The Journalists/Reporters have been deprived of all facilities and privileges which they enjoy in the rest of the country. All the Journalists/Reporters need special passes to visit the affected areas and interview the suffering people both in Jammu Province & Kashmir Valley. This is dire discrimination with the Journalists/Press working in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in their Order No. 40-3/2020-D dated 24.03.2020 had issued guidelines on the measures to be taken by Ministries/Departments of Government of India, State/Union Territory Governments and State/Union Territory Authorities for containment of Covid-19 Epidemic in the country. In its guidelines, the Home Ministry had clearly mentioned in Paragraph-4 (c) the Commercial and Private establishments shall be closed down with exceptions, in Para-4 (C) it is clearly mentioned by the Home Ministry that’,
“Print and Electronic Media shall not be covered under clause-(4) which provides Commercial and private establishments shall be closed down because they have been placed as an exception in the order”.
NPP Supremo, Prof. Bhim Singh, a Senior Adv. in the Supreme Court of India and a noted Journalist expressed surprise that in Jammu & Kashmir Media persons/Journalists/Reporters/Pressmen have not been treated like Journalists rather they are treated harshly and roughly by the Police and the authorities in both in Kashmir as well as in Jammu. Some of the persons have been favoured by the Administration to move with freedom and send their dispatches wherever they like to send.
The Police, the Medical Staff including Doctors, even Sanitation workers have been given freedom to move and work. These are the only Journalists who have not been provided any pass for their movement nor they are given any facility which a Journalist should enjoy as has been mentioned by Ministry of Home Affairs in their order no. 40-3/D dated 24.03.2020, mentioned above.
Prof. Bhim Singh has urged Shri Ramnath Kovind, the President of India as J&K is under President’s Rule, for his urgent intervention to ensure that freedom of Press shall not be interfered because these are the Journalists who have been described as ‘Corona Warriors’. When the ‘Corona Warriors’ themselves have been deprived of their freedom of Press and their movement is under the control of the Administration (Police) they shall not be able to perform their duty/responsibility as the Journalists have been doing in militancy and difficult situation. Panthers Party Supremo urged the President for his urgent intervention to ensure that the commitment made by Ministry of Home Affairs in its order mentioned above shall be followed faithfully by the Administration in Jammu & Kashmir in the best public interest and for the freedom of Press and Media as promised in the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Chapter-III of the Indian Constitution which stand applicable to J&K after the removal of temporary Article 35A from the Indian Constitution.