STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: The three-member team of Press Council of India (PCI) led by S N Sinha on Monday held wide-ranging deliberations with the media owners, editors and journalists here to know about the issues confronting the media in Jammu and Kashmir. The members of the visiting Sub-Committee include C K Nayak, Dr Suman Gupta and Naveen Joshi.
Director Information, Muneer-ul-Islam was also present during the day-long deliberations.
The PCI panel besides meeting others also invited A K Sawhney Chief Patron JOURNEY LINE and Raj Daluja Editor-in-Chief STATE TIMES to have an interaction with them. It may be mentioned that A K Sawhney is the President of the Jammu Newspapers Guild, while Raj Daluja is the Chairman of the Guild.
While submitting their viewpoint both the leaders of the Guild apprised the Press Council of India members that J&K has its distinct feature of being the only State in J&K with Special Constitutional Status suffering from the plague of terrorism from the last several decades therefore is quite often the centre of news related to terrorism and thus has the distinction of the only Indian State being on the international media’s radar.
Sawhney said that while the entire Industry in the State is suffering from decline it is the media Industry especially the print media in the State that has flourished with new newspapers being established and even printing units/ Newspaper Industries being set up in the State both in Kashmir region and Jammu region.
Thus the media Industry is giving quite a lot of employment to journalists, photo journalists, IT professionals for the web editions and other digital/ IT works, marketing and advertisement professionals, computer operators, machine staff, upto the last man i.e the hawker, who is earning his bread and butter due to the newspaper industry.
In the State of J&K there are two types of media, one with mainstream, nationalist ideology and policy and other with pro separatists, anti national policies. The Press Council of India, besides looking into the rights and freedom of the media/ journalists must also look into the fact that where the media is working day and night towards the anti national cause, that newspaper/ media must be reprimanded and action initiated again such elements who breed secession, he said.
Raj Daluja said that it seems that the Union Government and State Government have turned a blind eye towards such anti national media and these people are being fed by the DAVP, J&K Government DIPR (Information Department), PSU, Government Banks like J&K Banks etc.
“The State Information Department is giving lion’s share of advertisements to such newspapers which are breeding anti-nationalism and working on the anti -India agenda and the nationalist newspapers are being ignored and efforts being made to create bottle necks in their growth and development.
That Right to Speech and Expression cannot be at the cost of the nation, the Jammu Newspapers Guild believes,” he asserted.
Both the leaders of the Guild said “Though we stand for the journalists and workers’ welfare but when it comes to the newspaper owners/ Editors’ welfare no effort is being made to ensure that the newspaper survives which is feeding the families of the workers, journalists and others connected.
If the tree survives only then the branches will live else the branch will surely wither away.
Here the newspapers entrepreneurs, owners, Editors who have invested crores of rupees in setting up the plants, machineries, offices, IT editions etc are being neglected by the State Government as well as the Centre.
So much so that the advertisement distribution system is arbitrary and illogical. The namesake policies are made but never followed. The newspapers till date are not allotted categories whileas the policy envisages the same for advertisement allotment, but if categories are allotted then the arbitrariness and favouritism of the officers/ officials will be checked therefore the categorisation has never been done. The newspaper survival is being made difficult in the State where there is meager corporate advertisement.”
Sawhney said that the newspaper has to run, survive and act responsibly thus working on razors edge in the State, as there are several laws like newspapers incitement of Offences Act which have not been repealed by the Press Council of India Act and this archaic law empowers a District Magistrate to seal and seize the newspaper press and newspapers for any act which he finds seditious or uncomfortable. In essence the PCI Act and the Rules made hereunder should repeal these laws, as the Press Council of India is there to check the media also but the Government has kept the Damocles sword on our heads. On one side the law, other side defamation laws, then criminals, antisocial, mafia and then terrorism. The Journalists of J&K are braving all this and steering their media houses through all this and the State Police leaves no opportunity to coerce journalists and to first not to provide security cover and if provided to withdraw the same as soon as some uncomfortable news is published. Even the criminals and anti social elements who attack the journalists and Editors must not be spared by the Police and there must be special law for protection of journalists and any attack on a journalist/ Editor must be viewed seriously by the Government but nothing is being done in the State. This needs to be checked in the J&K State.
Raj Daluja expressed the Social media or the internet on the other hand is unbridled and unaccountable. Neither there is any registration, permission or license still the internet news is spreading like wild fire. There is no accountability whether the news they float is checked, unchecked, verified or not but it spreads like wild fire and several times the news is being run without any information as to who is the Editor, where is the office, etc etc. Even the Cable TV channels legally do not have the permission to run news programmes but same is being done without any check especially now on internet using the Youtube as a course and the Government till date has no law or measures to regulate, license and check the cable as well as internet news and the entire laws are for print media.
They also highlighted the issues pertaining to welfare of the journalists like insurance covers, press colony for Jammu, social security for staff of the newspapers etc
It may be mentioned that PCI team arrived here yesterday on a weeklong visit to have first-hand appraisal of the media scenario in Kashmir and the challenges confronting the journalists in the State. The Committee will give its recommendations regarding J&K media after concluding its ongoing visit to the State.
The PCI team commenced its deliberations with the other editors and working journalists of J&K at the Conference Hall of the Media Complex here this morning which continued throughout the day.
The Sub-Committee members are also scheduled to meet the Governor, N N Vohra, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, Information Minister, Choudhary Zulfkar Ali, Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu and Director General of Police Dr. S P Vaid.
The Sub-Committee will be visiting Jammu and Ladakh separately to interact with the media-persons there. The Sub-Committee had earlier visited the State in June 2012.
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