Source: This post is based on the article “Throttling the press in J&K” published in The Hindu on 11th October 2021.
Syllabus: GS 2 Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
Relevance: Understanding the importance of providing freedom of media in J&K.
Synopsis: By denying the media freedom, the government is building its own narrative and providing space for fake news.
The abrogation of Article 370 is associated with the curbs on freedom of the press in Jammu and Kashmir. This has led to misinformation which often creates in society in the minds of citizens in Jammu and Kashmir.
What was the past situation?
Earlier, the press has the liberty to publish things. It used to highlight democratic, anti-feudal and secular struggles. It supported the Kashmir efforts to accede with India.
What is the present situation?
The government has mostly controlled the media. The newspaper does not cover the current political situation happening in the valley. Most paper is covered with governments ads, government press releases, statements by government officials. There are hardly any statements of opposition parties.
Action has been taken to the media houses if they do not comply with the government norms. Advertisements have been cancelled and raids have been done on the media houses. The introduction of revised Media policy in 2020, is another roadblock in the freedom of the press. The policy was formulated without any consultation with media groups and mainly to marginalize the local media.
How to prevent disinformation?
Firstly, reporters should be allowed to perform their tasks freely without any threats. It is important to pass the information correctly to the public otherwise they will look for the social media platform which is notorious for feeding false/fake information.
Secondly, there are multiple narratives that are being played out in Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, transparent journalism and a free press can ensure that truth always prevails over disinformation. Judiciary should also intervene if journalists reported any threat to them for providing correct information.
What should be done going forward?
India needs to build the narrative of truth based on freedom of the press to ensure Liberty to all citizens of India, including Jammu and Kashmir.