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OPINION

Kashmir Press Club

After 47-years, journalists finally get an address
Javaid Malik
Srinagar | Posted : Jan 13 2018 1:29AM | Updated: Jan 12 2018 11:06PM
Kashmir Press Club
GK Photo

Kashmir at last gets a Press Club. Now journalists have an address where they can sit and chat and discuss their ideas and stories. The scribes no longer would have to search for a place where they can ask their guests to come and meet them. Aiwan-e-Sahafat is like a new year gift for the journalist fraternity in the Valley.

Having a Press Club in Kashmir has been a long pending demand of the working journalists in Kashmir. They had nowhere to go where they could even interact with their colleagues. The journalists from others states and other countries, who visit Kashmir, always used to express surprise over Kashmir having no place for scribes.

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The Jammu and Kashmir government recently handed over the possession of the building for Kashmir Press Club at Polo View in Srinagar to the President of the Club, Muhammad Saleem Pandit, a senior journalist, who has been at the forefront to make this dream come true.

Pandit believes that still lot needs to be done to make the Kashmir Press Club fully functional. The office bearers of the club plan to set up a full-fledged restaurant, gymnasium, and cybercafé with 24x7 internet facility, which won’t get snapped even during the times when government imposes e-curfew.

Many people associated with media in Kashmir believe that welfare measures for journalists in the Valley, especially during the past 30-years, have got caught in different wrangles. Local media in Kashmir has always presented both the sides of picture.

During the mass uprisings of 2008, 2010 and 2016 local dailies were punished for reporting the facts. The government advertisements were choked and all the attempts were made to scuttle the circulation of these dailies. The scribes associated with the local media too had to face the brunt. On the other hand the journalists associated with the New Delhi based media and the foreign media houses too faced difficult situation. Reporting Kashmir has never been easy.

The common perception which prevailed was that the people at the helm don’t want media to emerge as an organized industry in Kashmir. That’s why no attempt was made to recognize the scribes working in the Valley.

Soon after it was announced that building for Kashmir Press Club has been handed over to Saleem Pandit, veteran journalist Muhammad Sayeed Malik took to social networking site Facebook to express his happiness and joy. “A great revival after nearly half a century. The last Kashmir Press Club was housed in the Municipal building within Sher-e-Kashmir Park. That was early 1970s. Khawja Sanaullah Butt was the president and I was the general secretary. We hosted a number of visiting dignitaries there for interaction with editors and reporters. After 1975 with SMA's return to power the building was restored to the SMC within 3 or 4 years. Shortly thereafter our association also became defunct. During its existence we were able to resist and neutralise measures aimed at suppressing anti-establishment media reporting. Our signal achievement after a long agitation on the streets was to force the government in 1978 to water down draconian anti-press measures incorporated in the notorious PSA. PSA was conceived as a permanent device to replace earlier Preventive Detention Act (PDA) which required annual legislative sanction for continuation,” he wrote on the Facebook.

One hopes that setting up of Kashmir Press Club proves to be a first step towards organizing the media industry in Kashmir. Media in the Valley has faced many ups and down since 1990 despite all odds media houses and the youth, who took journalism as their career, have remained steadfast and have tried their best to highlight the Kashmir conflict. Many Kashmiri youth associated with media in Kashmir have won different awards for their exemplary work. With each passing day more and more youth are joining the media industry and want to make their career in this field. There was a time when journalism in Kashmir was not even counted among the professions. It was considered to be just a hobby and a part time job. Now times have changed and many people have taken journalism as a full time profession.

Editor-in-Chief of Greater Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmed Kaloo institutionalized journalism in Kashmir and provided a platform to budding journalists to exhibit their talent. Many top journalist working with big media houses in the country and the foreign publications at some point of time were associated with Greater Kashmir. The GK Editor-in-Chief, who is also the President of Kashmir Editors Guild, has played a pivotal role in institutionalizing media industry in Kashmir and ensuring that Valley gets a Press Club nearly after more than 47-years.

Kashmir Press Club is all set to become the destination of choice for visiting journalists, top dignitaries and activists, who keep on visiting Kashmir for one or other reason. Now the scribes working in Kashmir can sit at one place and agree to disagree on many issues. More than anything else it would act like an information centre and a place where people can come and get their grievances highlighted. It’s a new beginning.

Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir.