The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday took back the premises allotted to the Kashmir Press Club in Srinagar in the wake of factionalism that erupted in the largest journalists’ body in the valley last week.
“In view of the unpleasant developments and dissensions between various groups of journalists, it has been decided that the allotment of the premises at Polo View to the now-deregistered Kashmir Press Club be cancelled and the control of land and buildings situated at Polo View, Srinagar which belong to the Estates Department be reverted to the said department,” the government said in a press release.
The government said it was concerned over the emergent situation which has arisen due to the “unpleasant turn” of events involving two warring groups using the banner of the Kashmir Press Club.
The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) witnessed unfamiliar activities when a few journalists accompanied by policemen reached there on Saturday and claimed to be its “new management”, a day after the administration put its registration “in abeyance”.
The journalists had released a statement to the media stating that “some journalist forums” had chosen them to be new office-bearers, a claim contested by nine journalist associations from the valley.
The government said, “The factual position is that KPC as a registered body has ceased to exist and its managing body too has come to a legal closure on 14 July 2021, the date on which its tenure came to an end.”
“In its failure to register itself under the central Societies of Registration Act, further compounded by its failure to hold elections to constitute a new managing body, some individuals of the erstwhile club have been committing illegalities on several counts, least of which are false portrayal of being owner-managers of an entity which is no longer in legal vogue,” it said.
It said some other members have created an interim body using the same banner suggesting a “takeover”.
“However, since the original KPC itself has ceased to exist as registered body, the question of any interim body is rendered infructuous. In these circumstances, issuing of notices and communication by any group using the rubric of erstwhile Kashmir Press Club is illegal,” it added.
The government said the rival groups have been levelling various allegations against each other also with regard to the use of the premises belonging to the Estates Department that was being utilised by members of the journalistic fraternity.
“In view of this aspect of the dispute and in view of the reports in social media and other sources indicating a potential law and order situation, including a threat of breach of peace and the satefy of bonafide journalists, an intervention has become necessary,” it said.
The government said it is committed to a free and fair press and believes that journalists are entitled to all facilities, including a place for professional, educational, social, cultural, recreational and welfare activities.
The government “also hopes that a duly registered bona fide society of all journalists shall be constituted as soon as possible and the same shall be able to approach the government for reallocation of the premises.” PTI