Indian Editors Guild condemns ‘forcible takeover’ of Kashmir Press Club
The Editors Guild of India today condemned the manner in which the office and the management of Kashmir Press Club (KPC) were "forcibly taken over" by a group of journalists with the help of armed policemen.
In a statement, the guild said it "is aghast at the manner in which the office and the management of Kashmir Press Club, the largest journalists' association in the valley, was forcibly taken over by a group of journalists with the help of armed policemen on January 15, 2022".
"The armed takeover has effectively scuttled this rule-based functioning of the club. Even more disturbingly, the state police entered the premises without any due warrant or paperwork, and have therefore been brazenly complicit in this coup in which a group of people have become self-declared management of the club," reports our New Delhi correspondent citing the statement.
"This violation of the sanctity of the club by the police and the local administration is a manifestation of the continuing trend to smother press freedom in the state," it alleged and demanded an independent inquiry as to how "armed forces entered the club premises," it further said.
The Editors Guild of India also said it "is equally alarmed by an arbitrary order of putting the registration of the Kashmir Press Club "in abeyance", a day before this armed takeover of the club, on January 14, 2022, by the Registrar of Societies".
According to the statement, the club had been issued a fresh "re-registration" as recently as December 29, 2021 following a long process of verification of an application made by them in May 2021, in response to public notices issued by the registrar.
The guild demanded immediate restoration of the status quo before the "hostile takeover" and pushed for an independent inquiry as to how armed forces entered the Kashmir Press Club premises.
The organisation said that just recently, Sajad Gul, a young journalist, was arrested for merely posting a video on social media, which showed a family protesting against the Indian government.
It demanded immediate restoration of the status quo before this hostile takeover, announcement of elections to appoint a new management body and executive council, and strict prohibitions on any armed forces from interfering with the functioning of the Club, without due legal sanction.