Vijay Kumar, IGP, Kashmir Zone, directs the police to take legal action if journalists report live from encounter sites or law-and-order ‘situations’

Published : April 08, 2021 12:34 IST

Vijay Kumar, IGP, Kashmir, addressing a press conference in Srinagar on March 10. Photo: PTI

In what is being viewed as an assault on the freedom of the press by Kashmir’s mediapersons, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has warned of legal action against scribes who come near encounter sites while reporting.

Vijay Kumar, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir Zone, said on April 7 that he has issued written directions to all district Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs) to take legal action if a mediaperson comes near encounter sites or “law and order” situations.

“I have already issued written directions to all district SSPs yesterday. District SSPs will take legal action on facts,” the IGP was quoted as saying by a local news agency in Srinagar. According to the news agency, the IGP’s advisory is applicable to both national and local media outlets.

The IGP was quoted as saying that mediapersons should refrain from covering live encounter or law-and-order situations.

“The freedom of speech and expression is subject to reasonable restrictions that should not violate other person’s right to life guaranteed under Article 21 or putting the national security in jeopardy,” he said. “Do not interfere in professional and bonafide duty of police and security forces at encounter site,” he added.

The IGP cautioned against coverage of operational content that had the potential to incite violence or was against the “maintenance of law and order or which promotes anti-national sentiment”.

The media bodies in Kashmir reacted sharply to the advisory. In a joint statement, a number of media associations said on April 7 that journalists in Kashmir worked under precarious circumstances and had upheld courageous and upright journalism.

The statement alleged that the advisory was a coercive tactic to preclude on-the-spot reporting. The joint statement said: “If this is a part of the official policy of police then it appears to be a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground. It also seems to be a part of the string of measures taken by the authorities to suppress freedom of press in the region. Summoning journalists to police stations, filing FIRs [first information reports] and seeking informal explanations for their work has intensified in the past two years.”

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