‘Unprecedented State-Sponsored Attack’: EGI On Barring Of Journalists From R-Day Event

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NEW DELHI — The Editors Guild of India on Monday said the denial of entry to several senior journalists into a stadium in Srinagar to cover the Republic Day function was an “unprecedented state-sponsored attack” on press freedom and demanded an inquiry into the incident.

Journalists in Srinagar had staged a protest against the Jammu and Kashmir government after several scribes were allegedly not allowed to enter the venue of the Republic Day function despite possessing valid accreditation passes.

The Editors Guild of India said it condemns the arbitrary manner in which several senior journalists of Jammu and Kashmir were denied entry into the stadium.

“It is shocking that many of them were stopped from entering the stadium to perform their professional duty in spite of their possessing entry passes issued by the state government’s Information Department,” the Guild said in a statement.

Equally deplorable, it said, is the “state government’s earlier decision to deny entry passes for covering the Republic Day function to many other senior journalists”.

“The Guild believes that this is an unprecedented state-sponsored attack on press freedom and demands an inquiry into how such lapses were allowed to take place,” the statement said.

The Guild also sought an assurance from the government that such “reprehensible” acts would not be repeated.

“If necessary, a fool-proof and non-discriminatory system of issuing entry passes to journalists to help them perform their professional duty in high-security areas must be introduced at the earliest,” the Guild said.

The protesting journalists had alleged that some of their colleagues were denied entry to Sher-e-Kashmir cricket stadium — the main venue for Republic Day celebrations — even when they had been issued the accreditation passes by the concerned authorities.

They had also claimed that some of the accredited journalists were not even issued the passes.

‘Overenthusiastic’ Police Officer Took Decision: Officials

An “overenthusiastic” officer in the security wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police took the decision to bar some journalists with adverse reports against them from attending the Republic Day function here, leading to a chaos, officials said on Monday.

After preliminary enquiry, it was found that the officer of the additional superintendent of police-rank prepared a list of journalists based on a CID report and directed his subordinates to bar them from the event, attended by several dignitaries on Saturday, they said.

According to the officials, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) gives regular reports on the background of journalists, which includes their possible leanings towards separatists or any of their kin being associated with militant groups or being an overground worker.

However, the journalists have always been allowed to attend government functions without any problem in the past, they said.

The CID report, based on which the officer issued the direction, nowhere mentions that the journalists or photo-journalists should be barred from covering the event, the officials said.

Journalists had on Saturday staged a protest against the Jammu and Kashmir government after several scribes, especially photographers, were allegedly not allowed to enter the venue of the Republic Day function despite possessing valid accreditation passes.

This had prompted Governor’s advisor K Vijay Kumar to issue a statement that the issue would be looked into. “It is learnt that today at Republic Day parade venue in Srinagar some journalists were not permitted to cover the event as the security passes issued to them were found not to be authenticated. The matter shall be looked into,” Kumar, who is in-charge of the Home Department, had said in a statement issued in Jammu.

The mediapersons, carrying placards which read “journalism is not a crime”, had staged the protest in the heart of the city.

The Editors Guild of India on Monday said the denial of entry to several senior journalists into a stadium in Srinagar to cover the Republic Day function was an “unprecedented state-sponsored attack” on press freedom and demanded an inquiry into the incident.

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