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Press unaffected by the Indo Pak rapprochement in Kashmir: RSF

Srinagar
Feb 02, 2007:

The press in Indian administered Kashmir ‘did not really benefit’ from the Indo Pak peace process, the Paris based group, Reporters sans frontières (RSF) said in its Annual Press Freedom Survey released Thursday.

The survey reports on press freedom in 98 countries and includes the main violations of journalists’ rights in 2006 and regional aspects of media and Internet freedom.

“The report lists the worst violations in repressive countries, including major culprits North Korea, Eritrea, Cuba and Turkmenistan, but also looks at democracies, where progress needs to be made too,” RSF says.

“A disturbingly record number of journalists and media workers were killed or thrown in prison around the world in 2006 and we are already concerned about 2007, as six journalists and four media assistants have been killed in January alone,” the report’s introduction says.

Referring to Kashmir the report says, “The press did not really benefit from the Indian-Pakistani rapprochement in Kashmir. Some increa-singly radical separatist groups threatened suicide attacks on local cable television operators. Fearing for their safety, some of them decided to stop broadcasting channels considered "obscene" by the armed groups. Journalists were also targeted by these same groups.”

The report also mentions recent attacks on news men in Kashmir.

“In June, Shujaat Bukhari, correspondent in Kashmir for the national daily The Hindu, escaped a murder attempt by armed men. Indians security services have also been implicated in attacks against the press, as in the assault, in September, on three reporters, who were beaten by police officers in the streets of Srinagar.

"Elsewhere, Abdul Rouf, of the Srinagar News, and his wife Zeenat Rouf, were arrested in November in disturbing circumstances. Photojournalist, Muhammad Maqbool Khokar has been held since September 2004, under an emergency public security law. Despite calls for his release from the justice system and the National Human Rights Commission, police have refused to let him go.

“The Indian media is dynamic and protective of its freedoms and plays a crucial role in the country's democratic system. However, in states shaken by separatist or Maoist rebellions, journalists are caught in the crossfire.” The report says.

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