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CPM leader fights for press freedom in Kashmir

July 13, 2010 14:57 IST

Yusuf Tarigami, a prominent Communist Party of India Marxist leader from Jammu and Kashmir, has taken up the cause of the beleaguered journalists in the state who have been going through a harrowing time due to the curfew imposed in the valley by the state administration.

Newspapers failed to hit the stands for a few days recently after the government refused to issue curfew passes to even accredited journalists in the state.

"While we were denied curfew passes, journalists from New Delhi and elsewhere in the country were allowed unrestricted movement even when the curfew was being enforced. The district officials would ask us to produce the curfew pass and after we did so, they would simply tear it to pieces," alleged a senior journalist from the valley.

"I have taken up the cause of the media persons of Kashmir valley as denial of curfew passes means the curtailment of the freedom of press," Tarigami said.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently lashed out at the media for its 'sensational and inaccurate portrayal' of the Kashmir crisis. He also alleged that such irresponsible reporting had made it difficult for the administration to contain the violence in the valley effectively.

"The media has been putting out wrong stories that have further angered the people of the state," he had claimed.

The state administration recently accused Suhail Bukhari, a journalist from a national TV channel, of reporting a false story about the death of a protestor. The government has now booked him under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and 121A for waging war against the state.

"He put out a wrong story that could have resulted in huge loss of human lives," said a senior district official from Srinagar.

Speaking about the incident, Bukhari told, "I did not do the story that was attributed to me. The moment I came to know that the channel had put a scroll about the story, I asked my seniors to withdraw it. We ran an apology for the whole day but the administration did not listen to me."

When got in touch with Tarigami and asked if he would take up the case of the journalist, the MLA promised that he would help Bukhari.

"Let him speak to me and I will do whatever I can within my powers. I will even meet the chief minister and urge him to withdraw the case," he said.

Onkar Singh In New Delhi