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For democracy to survive- Attacks on journalists must end

For democracy to survive- Attacks on journalists must end
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With the overt state-sponsored censorship perennially breathing down their necks and a list of unwritten no-go areas, the journalists in Kashmir, covering the politics of conflict in the violence-infested maze of alleys in the capital city of Srinagar or in the valley’s sprawling countryside, often land in dangerous catch-22s. The point in case is the attack on a journalist covering the LS Polls in Srinagar before a couple of days. What was his crime, just that he was there doing something for which he gets his salary? Was it just that he was covering a story the state did not want him to cover?

Independence and fearless thought, usually considered to be invaluable journalistic attributes, are now becoming a serious – even dangerous – hindrance for media professionals. If journalists in prime locations and metropolitan cities are under attack, those away from media and public glare, spread out in small towns and villages, are preyed upon with far greater ease.
In 2016 Tauseef Mustafa, an ace photojournalist working with Agencie France Presse(AFP) was just doing his professional duties outside the residence of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. A pot-bellied police officer caught hold of Mustafa’s throat, pressed against the jugular with all his might, yelling threats to kill him-Mustafa’s ordeal being clicked by his fellow photojournalists all the while.
As, a young journalist from Batamaloo Aasif Sultan is lying in jail from last few months. Again, the policemen at various Nakas and frisking points give preference to national media correspondents who write favorably about state machinery.
Journalists must be allowed to function in a safe environment without fear of retribution or danger to their lives. The killings and harassment must stop now for democracy to survive.
There have also been incidents of various separatists’ leaders or their cronies entering newsrooms if their long press notes were not given proper space. Threats, caveats and beatings are the order of the day.
Somehow the fault also lies in those organisations, who hire non-professional, matric fail journalists in various districts, and they (illiterate journalists) doesn’t know a bit about journalism.
All the parties to the conflict must understand that a journalist’s job is as important as theirs. As a journalist is trying to maintain balance there is no point in thrusting your views on them. We are looking at a state where the journalists and not the ambulance are the first respondents to a violent situation. Journalists are doing a commendable job and we have produced some fine journalists over the period of time.

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