The Press Council of India (PCI) has constituted a three-member fact-finding committee to look into alleged intimidation and harassment of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir. The move comes days after former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti wrote a letter to the PCI highlighting the issues. Dainik Bhaskar's group editor Prakash Dubey, Gurbir Singh of The New Indian Express, and Jan Morcha editor Suman Gupta will be part of the panel.
In a statement on Wednesday, the PCI said the committee will regulate its own procedure and requested authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to extend full cooperation and assistance to the panel.
Mufti on Monday wrote to the PCI and Editors Guild of India about the "systematic harassment" of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir. She urged the PCI to send a fact-finding team to independently verify the allegations and take remedial action. In her letter titled "Intimidation, snooping and harassment of journalists in Jammu and Kashmir", Mufti wrote about police raids at homes of journalists in Kashmir this month. She also tweeted a questionnaire from the administration seeking "personal and bizarre information" from journalists.
"On one hand pliable journalists are para-dropped here to parrot the normalcy narrative. But local journalists who work under tremendous pressure & speak truth to power are punished," she tweeted.
The PCI has asked the panel to talk to the authorities as well as the affected journalists. "The committee is required to make a thorough probe into the matter holding discussions with the concerned authorities and the affected journalists and collect such information as it deems fit to submit its report to the council at the earliest, " it said.
In a tweet, Mufti thanked the PCI for constituting the committee. "Thankful to the @PressCouncil_IN for their decision to constitute a fact finding committee to probe about journalists being harassed in J&K. Hope the local administration ensures their full cooperation so that this committee can discharge its duty."