Srinagar, Jan 16 (Asia Free Press): Pakistan condemns the increasing harassment, illegal arrests, and registration of fake criminal cases against journalists and civil society activists in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK).
A statement released by Pakistan’s MoFA condemned in highest terms the hijacking of the Kashmir Press Club, saying that, “The reported attack on Kashmir Press Club yesterday manifestly reflects India’s entrenched use of brute force and coercion to forcibly silence those raising voices against its horrendous crimes and egregious human rights violations IOJK”.
“The increasing use of draconian and inhumane laws including Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) with impunity in IIOJK, which reflects India’s colonial mindset,” added the statement.
On January 15, a group of disgruntled journalists barged into the Kasmir Press Club office in the Srinagar district of IOJK and forcibly took control of the club by keeping the office members hostage. A posse of armed paramilitary troops was deployed at the gates of the Press Club in Srinagar’s Polo View that afternoon. At 1.45 pm, the group’s head, journalist Saleem Pandit, arrived in an armoured cavalcade comprising a bulletproof Ambassador and a Scorpio, along with his security detail, reported Newslaundry.
Journalists present there said it was “virtually like a coup” of an autonomous professional institution.
In a joint statement, the local journalist associations, while expressing anguish over the incident, said, “This move, in which a group of journalists self-appointed itself as an “interim body,” is uncivil, illegal, unconstitutional and without any precedence. It has been taken at a time when the process of registration is still pending before the authorities.”
“All journalist bodies are unanimous in the view that this unfortunate move by a disgruntled lot has set a dangerous precedent by forcing their way into the club office in violation of the KPC constitution and bylaws. The Press bodies have decided to take legal recourse against the perpetrators,” it added.
The statement was jointly issued by the Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK), Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA), Kashmir Press Photographer Association (KPPA), Kashmir Press Club (KPC), Jammu and Kashmir Journalist Association (JAKJA), Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA), Kashmir Working Journalists Association, Kashmir National Television Journalist Association (KNTJA), and Kashmir Journalist Association (KJA).
Pakistan’s MoFA statement further stated, “The increasing use of draconian and inhumane laws, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) with impunity in IIOJK, which reflects India’s colonial mindset.”
Pakistan called upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and international human rights and humanitarian bodies, to hold India accountable for its unabated harassment and illegal arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activists in IOJK.