Srinagar: As the details of the fact-finding committee constituted by the Press Council of India (PCI) continue to crop up, it has been established that advertisements of some newspapers have been stopped by the administration in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for publishing the truth in their publications.
The committee in its report also looked into the charge that the government was using its advertisements to control and intimidate the media.
“Some newspapers, who had earned the wrath of the local administration, found advertising either totally withdrawn or curtailed to a trickle.”
Advertisements of some newspapers were stopped just for writing the truth. With the private sector and commerce limited in the territory, the report said the government remained the biggest advertiser. It said through the new media policy, 40% of the funds have been earmarked for platforms other than print.
Stating that the policy required the media to get impaneled with the Directorate of Information and Publicity (DIPR), the report said the policy lays down that,
“The DIPR shall not release advertisements to such newspapers…which incite or tend to incite communal passions, preach violence, violate broad norms of public decency or carry out any acts of propagate any information prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India.”
Such clauses have brazenly been misused to deny advertisements to publications reporting the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir especially denial of basic amenities to the people.
The Information Department told the FFC that advertisement for 26 of the 259 publications in the Jammu region and 17 of the 166 publications in the Kashmir region have been suspended on “various grounds”.
Since the reading down of Article 370, the ouster of journalists from government-allotted accommodation has been used as a lever to pressure those journalists “who the administration felt did not see eye to eye with the government,” a report by a fact-finding committee (FFC) of the Press Council of India (PCI) has revealed.
Besides, government advertisements are being released to newspapers “selectively, based on the ‘line’ and nature of the coverage”, and journalists in the territory have been facing “constant harassment”.
This fact-finding team had been set up by PCI chairman Justice C.K. Prasad on September 29 last year, following a complaint from former J&K chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti.