Kashmiri Activist Group Condemns Kashmir Press Club Takeover by Indian Government in Military-Style Coup

Jan 21, 2022 | Press Release

-World Kashmir Awareness Forum Calls to Protect Free Speech and Journalistic Freedom in Region-
Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2022) – The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKA) issued the following statement condemning the forcible and illegal takeover and formal dissolvement of the Kashmir Press Club, one of the region’s most important journalist organizations, by pro-government media representatives with the assistance of armed Indian forces.

“On Thursday, January 13, the bureau of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC), an independent 300 member media body, announced the beginning of the re-registration process under the Societies Act 1860, allowing the club to hold internal elections in February. On Friday, January 14, officials from the Registrar of Societies of Kashmir announced the suspension of the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) after it filed for re-registration, citing a report from the J&K Police CID wing. The following day, on Saturday, January 15, a small group of pro-government media representatives stormed the KPC with the assistance of Indian armed forces, threatening its ruling body and closing the entrance to the building while claiming they were enforcing COVID measures.

The armed forces were accompanied by three pro-government media representatives, Saleem Pandit, Zulfiqar Majid and Arshid Rasoolm, who dishonorably declared themselves to be the KPC’s new administrators after taking control of the building and denying journalists entry. The KPC has historically defended media freedom of Kashmiris and lobbies the government on issues of journalist safety. This is the latest attempt by the Indian government to stifle the voices of journalists throughout the region.

On Monday, January 17, the regional administration declared KPC deregistered as a society, and it will “cease to exist,” the government taking back the land it resides on. This marked the final stage in the coup that began on January 14 and is a heinous attack on free media in Kashmir.

The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKA) strongly condemns the group of paramilitary forces and self-appointed, pro-government journalists who overthrew the Kashmir Press Club. This is an illegal and unconstitutional act committed by the Indian government and its allies to continue to interfere in Kashmir media and strip Kashmiris of press freedom. Kashmiri journalists who support the freedom of speech and press in support of self-determination continue to be targeted and harassed by the Indian government, and this forcible takeover is another act of injustice and attempt to derail the democratic process.

It is imperative we stop the Indian government’s attack on free speech in the region, and we urge Kashmir authorities to immediately allow the Kashmir Press Club to resume operations and cease the cruel and unjust harassment of journalists in the region before further human rights are stripped from our people. The KPC was the only democratic and independent journalist body in the region, and we will not stand for its closure.

There is no press freedom for Kashmir. The Indian government has used internet blackouts, police raids, and traumatic intimidation tactics on activists, journalists, and civilians to crush dissent and shield its brutal military occupation. Journalists in the region have faced constant harassment, interrogations and investigations and have been subjected to police raids and questioning. It is imperative we stop the Indian government’s attack on free speech in Kashmir, and we urge the United Nations and international community to get involved and ensure local journalists are not forcibly silenced for speaking freely. Enough is enough.”


About WKA (the World Kashmir Awareness Forum)

Founded in 2005, the World Kashmir Awareness Forum is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on providing information on the conflict in Kashmir and advocating for Kashmiris in the region and throughout the diaspora. To accomplish its mission, World Kashmir Awareness Forum produces, aggregates and amplifies news articles and events relevant to the region, organizes and participates in demonstrations and rallies, and engages in advocacy efforts with diplomatic, civic, religious, human rights, political and advocacy organizations, confronting the human rights abuses perpetrated in Kashmir and supporting the region’s right to self-determination. Learn more at kashmirawareness.org.