MIRPUR (AJK): The journalist community across Azad Jammu Kashmir marked the World Press Freedom Day on Monday with serious concern over the increased incidents of victimization of journalists in Indian Illegally occupied Jammu Kashmir by the Indian occupational forces with sinister motives to gag the freedom of expression in the internationally-acknowledged disputed IIOJK state.
World Press Freedom Day 2021 was commemorated in Azad Jammu Kashmir on Monday, like rest of the world with the renewal of the pledge to continue supporting the struggles for the safety and security of the basic human right of expression and the freedom of press the world over.
The day was particularly marked with unanimous demand to the world human rights bodies for the grant of complete freedom to the press the world over especially in the areas like Indian Illegally occupied Jammu Kashmir where the freedom of expression was constantly being snubbed by the occupational Indian forces at the gun point with ulterior designs primarily to suppress the Kashmiris struggle for liberation of the motherland from forced and unlawful Indian rule.
This year too the media in Pakistan and AJK was operating under a new and challenging environment created by the spread of COVID-19. Since the spread of the pandemic in the country over one and half year ago, several journalists have reportedly died of the pandemic in the country and scores of other media workers have tested positive.
This was revealed in a recent “Report on Media Safety and Press Freedom” released by Pakistan Press Foundation to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, unveiling the alarming situation surrounding COVID-19 created for the national print, electronic and digital media in the country including AJK.
According to the report most media houses had not ensured the effective implementation of safety protocols nor the timely provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to media workers.
A key recommendation of the report called on Pakistan’s media to develop detailed workable guidelines for all media workers on how to cover the corona virus safely and to monitor the implementation by their respective member organizations. The PPF had also urged the government, in its report, to provide support to the media in ensuring the safety of media workers.
In AJK, various organizations of media workers and press clubs including the Jammu Kashmir Union of Journalists and Jammu Kashmir Free Media Association reportedly held brief meetings maintaining social distance in line with the set SOP in view of the current COVID-19 to avert threat of its spread in various AJK cities, primarily as hallmark of the world press freedom day.
Special simple but impressive ceremonies under set SOPs, were reportedly held in various parts of Azad Jammu Kashmir under the auspices of various journalists organizations and press clubs to observe the day which provides an opportunity to the press to recount their outcomes over the previous years.
In Mirpur, special ceremony to mark the day was jointly held under the auspices of Jammu Kashmir Union of Journalists and Jammu Kashmir Free Media Association with the Union’s Vice President Raja Sohrab Ahmed Khan in the Chair.
Speaking on this occasion, the JKUJ and JKFMA leaders including the chair , Central Vice President Sohrab Ahmed Khan, Ali Akhtar Salim, convener JKFMA Altaf Hamid Rao, Dr. Usman Ghani, Khawaja Shahid Iqbal digital media journalist Rao Jehanzeb Khan, ex Joint Secretary Kashmir Press Club Mirpur Atiq ul Amin Khan and others vehemently condemned the continual incidents of victimization of journalists in Indian Illegally occupied Jammu Kashmir by the Indian occupational forces with sinister motives to gag the freedom of expression in the internationally-acknowledged disputed IIOJK state.
With serious concern, speakers condemned the registration of cases against several of noted Kashmiri journalists in Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir including Peerzada Ashiq, Gohar Gillani and female photojournalist Masarrat Zahra by the occupational Indian authorities under serious charges.
They termed it a cowardly act of state terrorism against the kashmiri journalists on the part of the Delhi’s installed puppet state administration in the IIOJK to gag the true voices of Kashmir through such coercive tactics also against global moral norms and commitments.
The Jammu Kashmir journalists fraternity leaders warned the suppressive Indian authorities and their stooges in Indian Illegally occupied Kashmir that such mean and cowardly acts to suppress the freedom of expression in the bleeding vale of Kashmir could not sustain for a long time and the media would continue raising the voice of Kashmiris till their just and principled struggle for securing their right of liberation of the motherland from forced and unlawful Indian rule reaches to its logical end.
It may be recalled that three of the IIOJK journalists including Gohar Gillani, Masarrat Zahra and Peerzada Ashiq, who worked with reputed organizations in India and abroad, were booked last year for uploading some Kashmir-related photographs and covering the viewpoint of the Kashmiri martyrs’ families.
The meeting called upon the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to immediately intervene to get the victimization of the Kashmiri journalists by the occupational Indian oppressive forces aimed at to gag the freedom of expression in the Indian Illegally occupied part of the disputed Himalayan state.
Speakers bitterly criticized the imposition of sanctions on press in certain parts of the world including the Indian-Illegally occupied Jammu & Kashmir state where media was badly suffering from the sanctions imposed by the Indian occupation forces including the puppet state government.
They pointed out that no any foreign journalist from print and electronic media was allowed by the Indian occupation forces to visit and cover the every day tragic incidents of the killing of the innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupying troops in the bleeding vale of Jammu & Kashmir where people have stood up particularly since over last 20 years for fighting against the unlawful and forcible Indian occupation of their motherland.
Speakers also strongly condemned the increased sanctions and restrictions imposed by the Indian occupational forces to gag the media in the strife-torn occupied valley, where kashmiris struggle for freedom was at climax, since past many years.
They underlined that India and its stooges in occupied Kashmir were trying to shut the media with ulterior motives to snub the voice of freedom struggle by the people in the bleeding valley of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. They called upon the United Nations, international human rights and media organizations to take immediate notice of the said sanctions imposed against media by Indian forces in the occupied Jammu Kashmir state and move for getting them lifted without further delay.
Speakers also called upon the international organizations of media to take immediate notice of the sanctions imposed on local and foreign media in certain parts of the world including in the Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir with the ulterior motives to suppress their voice in order to conceal the true picture of inside of occupied Jammu Kashmir where no any day was left without the tragic incident of killing of the innocent Kashmiris by the Indian occupying forces to quell their ongoing movement for freedom of the motherland from the Indian yoke.
Speakers emphasized the need of the collective efforts by the international community to ensure the complete freedom of press across the world particularly in those areas including the bleeding vale of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir where the voice of freedom was being today suppressed by the oppressive forces through one way or the other.