Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have criticized the new media policy unveiled by the administration of the Union Territory.
In a statement issued to news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), National Conference (NC) termed the new policy as an “assault” on the freedom of speech and the role of the press in a democracy.
He said the new media policy obliquely stifles the media’s right to ask tough questions and highlight lacunae in the working of the administration.
“The policy seems to be a remnant of colonial-era censorships; it was that colonial experience of the founding fathers of the country that made them realize the crucial significance of the freedom of the press. Having the government decide what “fake, unethical and anti-national” is will jeopardize the free working of the press. Given the fact that the press fraternity in J&K is already working in harsh conditions, the new policy will choke the already constrained space for the free working of the press,” NC spokesman, Imran Ahmad Dar said.
“Such anti-democratic gags will obstruct the dissemination of free and fair press,” Imran said, adding, “It is also an infringement of the people’s right to information. It is gratuitous and unnecessary to come up with such rules and regulations, democracies are not supposed to fight opposing narratives by gagging its media. We denounce it in unequivocal terms,” he said.
The J&K Peoples Conference termed the new media policy as a new low – the lowest of the low- which will herald the darkest era of curbing press freedom wherein the government will script custom made versions of reality.
“The new media policy is plain censorship where the government defines the ethics of journalism. The government wants to see reality not as it exists but as it wants to see it exist. The policy gives them the power to decide what is fake and unethical. And no prizes for guessing, anything remotely true or critical of the government will be categorized as fake or anti-national news. That is the new normal. Fake news is an alibi to actually herald the era of customized fake news”, PC spokesperson Adnan Ashraf Mir said in a statement
Asserting that with these media policies India now joins the notorious club of the most repressive regimes of the world, in terms of freedom of expression, Adnan said it is a sad day for democracy and a sad day for freedom of expression.
“In Kashmir, this law will be at its coercive best and will be utilized to further mute the muted. They are formally recognizing what they have been doing informally. Who defines fake news, who is the faker, the publisher, or the enforcer. Fake news per se is evil but faking a law to fake enforcement will go down as the cruelest fetter on press freedom and will be perpetually held in odium”, he further added.