After the J&K Police arrested a local journalist in Srinagar on Friday, former Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti alleged ‘intimidation’, a charge that was denied vehemently by the police.
On Friday, police arrested Majid Hyderi, a local journalist, from his residence in Peerbagh locality of Srinagar city.
In a reaction to the arrest, Mehbooba Mufti posted on X, “Majid Hyderi’s arrest late last night has exposed the nexus between conmen & certain intelligence agencies. He was dragged from his home like a wanted terrorist without following any legalities. His mother & sister pleaded to see a warrant but this too was denied. This is how journalists who expose scams are accused of intimidation & defamation”.
In response to her allegations, Srinagar Police, on its official handle, said, “FIR No 88/2023 U/S 120-B, 177,386,500 of IPC registered in Sadder PS on basis of order issued by Hon’ble court of JMIC Srinagar. One Majid Hyderi S/o Jahangir Hyderi R/o Peerbagh arrested for criminal conspiracy, intimidation, extortion, giving false information, defamation etc. Family was clearly informed about the order of Hon’ble court regarding this. It is requested to kindly not fall prey to a misinformation campaign by vested interests.”
This is not an isolated incident, in which a journalist has been arrested. There have been similar instances in the past as well.
Media in Jammu and Kashmir consists of media houses such as Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Observer, Rising Kashmir and Daily Excelsior and digital news outlets like The Dispatch (Jammu and Kashmir), Free Press Kashmir, The Chenab Times, The Kashmir Walla , The Kashmiriyat News and radio stations such as AIR Srinagar, AIR Jammu, Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM, Red FM 93.5 and Radio Sharda. DD Kashir is state television broadcaster. Major private channels are News18 Urdu and Gulistan News.
In Urdu media category Kashmir Uzma, Srinagar Jang , Tameel Irshad, Aftab are among the prominent dailies.
The conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has had a profound impact on media operations. Journalists and media outlets have faced numerous challenges and instances of censorship. Reporting on sensitive issues related to the conflict has often been met with threats and restrictions.
In 2016, newspaper publications were banned for three days in Kashmir.
On 24 August 2017, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology sent a letter to Twitter under Section 69A of the IT Act to censor content. Following this, Twitter users received official legal complaints from Twitter.
A Press Council of India report in 2017 titled “Media and Media Scenario of J&K” in 2017 states that “journalists in Kashmir have to manage the reality of walking on the tightrope amidst the threats of gun and political arm-twisting”. Security forces consider photojournalists as “instigating protestors”, while the protestors call them “government agents”.
Laxmi Murthy and Geeta Seshu of Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI), in their 2019 report titled, “News behind the barbed wire”, based on field observation after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which provided special status to the erstwhile state of J&K, expressed that, “in the absence of reportage from the ground, the government’s influence of the narrative of normalcy is near total. Its official proclamations of the creation of a ‘Naya Kashmir’ have become vociferous. In contrast, there is a deafening silence and invisibilisation of voices from Kashmir expressing alienation, anger and disillusionment at perceived breach of trust. The government’s control of communication processes is intrinsically undemocratic and harmful, as it privileges the voices of authority and weakens those who speak truth to power.”