RSF demands reopening of Kashmir Press Club

ITANAGAR, 19 Jan: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has demanded the immediate reopening of the Kashmir Press Club, now officially closed for good after being invaded by agents of the New Delhi-run local government and paramilitaries last week.

Kashmiri journalists used the club to discuss their problems and defend press freedom, the RSF said.

Kashmir Press Club (KPC) was formally dissolved on 17 January by local government representatives, who had taken possession of its premises and rescinded the license of what was the region’s important journalists’ organisation.

It was the last stage in a coup that began in on 14 January, when officials announced the suspension of the KPC’s registration. The next day, on 15 January, the building that houses the club, was overrun by members of the region’s paramilitary forces, who claimed that they were enforcing Covid-19 measures.

They were accompanied by three pro-government media representatives, Saleem Pandit, Zulfiqar Majid and Arshid Rasoolm, who declared themselves to be the KPC’s new administrators. Its doors were then sealed and journalists were denied entry.

“We call on Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to immediately restore the KPC’s license and order its reopening,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific Desk.

“This society’s closure is clearly the outcome of a coup hatched at great length by the local government, which follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s orders. This undeclared coup is an Indian government insult to all the journalists trying to do their job in the Kashmir Valley, which is steadily being transformed into a black hole for news and information,” he said.