Opinion | Deafening Silence of Press Bodies on Terror Threats to Journalists

It is ironic that media bodies within and outside the country have maintained a deafening silence over terror threats against Kashmiri journalists by Pakistan-sponsored terror outfits and their propaganda arms.

In recent days, the so-called Resistance Front (TRF) issued intimidating posters naming some journalists. The content of the latest threat posts clearly depicts their intentions to put the lives of dozens of journalists in danger by publicly calling them “agents of security agencies”.

The silence by Editors Guild of India (EGI), Press Council of India, Press Club of India (PCI), Mumbai Press Club, Delhi Union of Journalists Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is baffling, to say the least.

The minimum expected from them was a statement condemning terrorists trying to muzzle free media, let alone criticising Pakistan which, in the absence of local people’s support, is now looking at other means to keep the terror bogey on.

On the contrary, the western world takes stands that are weighed in facts. For instance, last year, there was wide spread condemnation in United States even from people in power on Pakistan Supreme Court’s last year’s decision to acquit terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was convicted of killing former Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.

US Senator Marco Rubio even wrote a letter to Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Asad Majeed Khan, expressing his deep concern and disappointment over the apex court’s order.

In this backdrop, silence of Indian press bodies and others exposes their duplicity on such vital issues. A journalist in the Kashmir Valley who was named by terror groups in the poster said the sheepish behaviour of these press bodies calls for a review of their charter to make them accountable because they seem to have created an ecosystem to run a narrative that suits some of its office-bearers.

“We must dismantle such press bodies in India. They are the very symbol of moral corruption. They don’t represent journalists, nor represent values of the fourth estate. Except Kashmir Press Corps, no one has spoken against terrorist and condemned it,” the journalist said, requesting anonymity.

These press bodies in the past had issued statements of condemnation even if some journalist-cum-terror over ground workers having clear tanzim links were called by the law-enforcement agencies for questioning. Even when provided with ample evidences of their involvement in terror-related activities against Asif Sultan, Sajjad Gul and Fahad Shah, they try to shield them by invoking freedom of press.

“For these so called press bodies freedom of press is selective and must be invoked to shield those who are involved in terror-activities. When dozens of budding reporters of Kashmir have been publicly threatened and some of them forced to resign from their jobs, these ‘champions of media freedom’ have not even uttered a single word,” another journalist requesting anonymity said.

And, nearly a dozen so-called journalist associations in Kashmir, who hit streets every time even if a traffic policeman stops a media person for checking the documents of his vehicle, have not uttered a single word over the terror threats to their colleagues. What stops them from speaking against such atrocities by terrorists? Probably an ecosystem that thrives on anti-India narrative woke-ism.

Above all, the silence of Indian and international press bodies encourages terrorists since they construe that their threat and fatal physical assault is acceptable to people, which is actually not the case.

Anika Nazir is a Srinagar-based political commentator and social activist. Her Twitter handle is @i_anika_nazir. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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