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RSF Flaks Kashmir Press Club ‘Coup’, Calls for Its Immediate Reopening

“Reporters Without Borders demanded the immediate reopening of the Kashmir Press Club, now officially closed after being ‘invaded by agents of the New Delhi-run local government’ and paramilitaries last week.”

SRINAGAR — Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Tuesday demanded the immediate reopening of the Kashmir Press Club, now officially closed after being “invaded by agents of the New Delhi-run local government” and paramilitaries last week.

RSF statement said, the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) was formally dissolved on 17 January by local government representatives, who had taken possession of its premises and rescinded the license of what was the region’s important journalists’ organization.

“It was the last stage in a coup that began on 14 January, when officials announced the suspension of the KPC’s registration. The next day, on 15 January, the building that houses the club was overrun by members of the region’s paramilitary forces, who claimed that they were enforcing Covid-19 measures.”

“We call on Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, to immediately restore the KPC’s license and order its reopening,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific Desk. “This society’s closure is clearly the outcome of a coup hatched at great length by the local government, which follows Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s orders. This undeclared coup is an Indian government insult to all the journalists trying to do their job in the Kashmir Valley, which is steadily being transformed into a black hole for news and information.”

The grounds given by those who took possession of the club’s premises was its failure to hold the internal elections that were originally supposed to have taken place on 19 July 2021. But, in reality, it was the Jammu and Kashmir administration that blocked the process by delaying the club’s re-registration as a society, a formal pre-requisite, Bastard said.

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“Press freedom violations have surged in Jammu and Kashmir ever since the Indian authorities rescinded the region’s autonomy in August 2019, to the point of turning it into a new information black hole. India is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index,” the statement concluded.

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