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Outcry as India shuts Kashmir Press Club

19 Jan, 2022
Authorities said the club has failed to re-register under new laws introduced after the region came under direct Indian rule in 2019. AFP
Authorities said the club has failed to re-register under new laws introduced after the region came under direct Indian rule in 2019. AFP

The Indian government has shut down the Kashmir Press Club, prompting an outcry from journalists, politicians and others who called the move further evidence of efforts to silence critical reporting in the disputed territory.

Journalists there have come under heightened pressure in recent years, subject increasingly to arrests, raids, prosecution on “terrorism” related charges, and harassment for their reporting. The KPC was the only elected journalists’ body in Indian occupied Kashmir liaising with the government on difficulties faced by reporters, and had issued statements critical of police actions hindering the media.

Authorities on Monday said that the association, created in 2019 after a lengthy struggle by local journalists, had “ceased to exist” as a registered body, accusing members of “illegalities on several counts”.

They said that the club had failed to re-register under new laws introduced after the region came under direct Indian rule in 2019, and that its management committee had failed to hold elections.

Last month authorities granted a fresh registration after a rigorous six-month process — following which new elections were announced — but two days later held it in “abeyance”.

On Saturday, a group of pro-government journalists, accompanied by armed police and paramilitary troops, deployed outside the premises and declared themselves in charge. The Editor’s Guild of India called the action an “armed takeover”.