SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) Friday claimed that the government has stopped state government advertisements to two major local dailies here and sought the attention of the Press Council of India and the Editors Guild to exercise their legal, ethical and professional mandate to intervene in the issue and ensure that the media was not strangulated.
"With utmost regret, Kashmir Editors Guild wishes to inform that the Jammu and Kashmir government has stopped state government advertisements to two major daily newspapers - Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader. The decision has neither been conveyed formally nor was any reason detailed to the respective organisations, so far," a spokesman of the guild said in a statement.
He said the KEG, in a detailed meeting, discussed the issue and decided to fight the deliberate strangulation and subversion of the institution of media in the state.
"At a time when the democracy is in suspension, the KEG is seeking the attention of the Press Council of India and the Editors Guild of India to exercise their legal, ethical and professional mandate to intervene in the issue and ensure that the media in one of the most sensitive states is not strangulated. The guild decided to move the council and would also involve the Editors Guild of India," the spokesman said.
The guild reiterated that the media in Kashmir is one of the most professional media and it has retained its neutrality even at the cost of lives.
"It will continue to do so. The professional capacities of Kashmir media have been acknowledged world over. The Press Council of India has also issued a detailed report in 2018, detailing the issues and challenges that the Kashmir media is facing. It also addressed certain misconceptions about the media in the report. The guild also wants to reiterate that the attempts at strangulating the media is in continuation of what has happened in last more than three decades," the KEG said.
The spokesman said the "strangulation bid" came at a time when the media in general, and the Kashmir media in particular, is putting up a huge and costly battle with social media setups to ensure that the truth is reported cleanly and clearly separated from mass rumour-mongering.
"Kashmir is quite prone to rumours, which routinely overtake facts as it entails costs and consequences. The government in this situation should have intervened and helped improve the quality of the reportage. Instead, they have intervened inversely. A negative intervention in this situation is clearly aimed at slaying the institutions of media. Hitting the two institutions will impact the state and status of both, the journalists and the journalism in Kashmir," the statement said.
The KEG appealed to the state government, led by Governor S P Malik, and his policy makers that the "negative intervention" in the media is "compromising the Constitution as it goes against the constitutional guarantees within which the media operates in Kashmir and outside".
Meanwhile, former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah criticised the decision to allegedly stop government advertisements in the two papers.
"For reasons best known to him, the Guvs (governor's) admin (administration) in J&K has gone beyond its brief & is in no mood to step back. The decision to stop giving ads to local newspapers GK (Greater Kashmir) & Kashmir Reader is a punitive measure to force them into submission. Are they trying to stifle free press?" Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
"In a classic case of shooting the messenger the state government is reported to have blocked Greater Kashmir newspaper group from any government advertisements. If true I'm not sure what this move is meant to achieve other than to create a pliant, subservient media," Omar said.