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KEG condemns BJP leader’s threat to journalists

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"Singh's statement indicates that he holds some information about Bukhari's murder and it must be investigated”

Srinagar, Jun 23: The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) today condemned former minister and BJP leader Lal Singh’s statement threatening Kashmiri journalists.

Invoking the brutal assassination of senior editor Shujaat Bukhari, Singh has “suggested” the Kashmir media to “draw a line” and to decide “if they have to work the way he was working”.

“KEG condemns the criminal statement of Singh who has issued a direct threat to the Kashmir media. Singh, who was earlier being termed as a serious sufferer of foot-in-mouth disease, has moved way ahead and issued a direct threat to the media in Kashmir,” KEG said in a statement here today.

Singh, a BJP MLA, has warned Kashmiri journalists to draw a line between reporting facts and supporting militancy or face the fate of ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

The threat was delivered in a presser by the BJP lawmaker, who was sacked by the party in wake of his “unflinching support” to the rapists in Kathua, in Jammu. He has invoked Bukhari’s murder at a time when police in Srinagar is investigating the case.

“Kashmiri journalists have created an erroneous atmosphere and I would like to ask them to draw a line…You want to live like what happened to Basharat (Shujaat Bukhari)…Take care of yourselves and draw a line so that the brotherhood is not broken and it is maintained so that progress and development is ensured,” Singh told reporters in Jammu yesterday.

In a tweet today, the BJP MLA said, “There is need to draw a line between reporting facts and supporting terrorists and their sympathisers. Misinterpretation has become a norm and reporting facts a rarity. Journalistic freedom is absolute but not at the cost of nation and nationalism.”

The KEG said, “Singh’s statement indicates that he holds some information about Bukhari’s murder and it must be investigated. KEG reserves the right to lodge a police case against the lawmaker who, earlier as well, named a number of reporters for his fall from grace in the wake of Kathua probe, now in a trial stage.”

Singh and his colleague Chander Prakash Ganga had resigned on April 13 over their participation in an earlier rally in support of the accused in the gang rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua district.

“The Congress-turned-BJP politician has seemingly talked on Kashmir media from a point of strength and possible information about the recent killing in Srinagar,” the KEG statement said.

It also said the Guild was perturbed over the sluggish pace with which the investigation into Bukhari’s murder is moving ahead.

Bukhari and his two personal security officers were shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the newspaper’s office in the heart of Srinagar on June 14.

“KEG is keen to see the vilification campaigns that have been going around on social media for almost a year be curbed, investigated and immediately halted. As a firm supporter of freedom of speech, KEG would like people to formally write instead of getting into shady corners of the internet and attack institution of journalism in general and individuals in particular,” the statement said.

In the last few days after Bukhari’s killing, all newspapers in Srinagar have been getting notices from the police seeking “sources” and details of certain news items that were published.

“This sounds ridiculous in wake of the fact that sources of all these items are part of the published material. KEG sees these notices as an attempt to harass the media and use the post-assassination shock to create the ‘line’ that Lal Singh is talking about in Jammu,” KEG said.

It said Kashmir media has survived hell at huge costs in last three decades. KEG reiterates that it will fight all the onslaughts aimed at preventing it from recording the contemporary history, honestly and objectively, the statement said.

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