CUK students protest amid official function on world press freedom day

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CUK protest 1Say such celebration proxy event, question frequent gag orders on media

Asif Iqbal

Srinagar, May 03 (GNS): Journalism students of Central University of Kashmir on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration during the World Press Freedom Day which was organized by Jammu Kashmir Press Association in the varsity.

Dozens of students from journalism skipped the function held at audiotorioum and remained in the campus lawns throughout the function. The students were holding placards which read: “We Are Not Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, We Are Mourning It”, “Stop Media Gag”, “You Talk Of Press Freedom, But You Didn’t Even Spare Messaging Applications”, “We want Press Freedom, Not Fake Promises”.

CUK protest 2Talking to news agency GNS several students expressed their resentment over the recent gag on media by authorities in a spate of events unfolding after an alleged molestation bid in north-Kashmir’s Handwara.

Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa a student from the varsity said: “We have got nothing to celebrate about the so-called press freedom day. What freedom do we have when the people (state authorities) stop us from covering events?”

Hinting at the recent incident at Handwara, he said that there was a complete media blackout enforced by the authorities. The press conference proposed by civil society was also shunted out, he said. “We have seen it from time to time, be it in 2008 or for that matter 2010 unrest,” Vijdan said, adding, “This is a proxy event if they just want to convey it to authorities that they celebrated press freedom day then I must say they failed miserably.”

Qadri Inzamam, another student who has joined recently expressed similar views. “It is a sheer irony that the people who barred the media from covering a series of events in Handwara are boasting about the freedom of press.”

CUK protest 3Perplexed about the recent government orders which have been asking the WhattsApp group administrators to obtain licenses, Inzamam said: “although it a debatable issue owing to the widespread circulation of fake news and romours, why Kashmir only? Nowhere in the world or even in India we see the authorities asking for such things; Why only Kashmir and that too after the Handwara incident?”

Sana, a girl student who had been accompanying the fellow-students on the occasion feels that the “press is not being given full chance and freedom to speak up.”

“We are gagged and can feel it being in a conflict- zone,” she said, adding, “why are the morals and ethics being confined to books only when we can’t practice them in reality.”

Pertinent to mention that India ranks an abysmally low at 133 among 180 countries in the latest annual World Press Freedom Index report released by Finland-based NGO Reporters Without Borders.

The event was presided over by Divisional Commissioner Dr. Asgar Samoon while JKPA president G.H Kaloo, Director Information Muneer-ul-Islam, N.M Mirza were among the other dignitaries present on the occasion. (GNS)