Srinagar, July 15: The journalistic fraternity in Kashmir, where 19 scribes lost their lives to unknown gunmen since 1990, will get to elect its first-ever body for the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) on July 15.
As many as 252 working journalists and editors will vote for four posts of office-bearers and a seven-member executive committee. Thirty one candidates are in the fray for the July 15 polls.
All the candidates wooed voters through a fierce poster, social media and video campaigns in the past one week, promising social security, exigency funds, free legal support etc.
“Holding election for professional organisations is always a welcome step. One hopefully looks forward to its promised positive outcome for the profession as well as the larger public good,” said senior journalist Mohammad Syed Malik.
He recalled that regular organisational elections were held prior to 1990 to choose the office-bearers of working journalists’ State unit affiliated to the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ). “The onset of turmoil (in 1990) disrupted all. The rest is history,” said Mr. Malik.
Kashmir may be a rare place in the country where setting up a press club remained a no-go area. Successive governments identified land and buildings but never handed them over to the journalists.
“In the late 1990s, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah instructed his Chief Secretary to hand over the keys of a particular building to the media fraternity to start a press club. Later, the Chief Secretary disclosed that the keys of the building had gone missing,” said another senior journalist on condition of anonymity.
The setting up of the press club, which was handed over by the previous government to the journalists in 2017, has come at a time when working journalists and editors are under tremendous pressure from many sides in Kashmir.
The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), a body of editors of local dailies, at a recent meeting said the club “should become a symbol of unity.”
Ishfaq Tantry, contesting for general secretary, said, “This election will be a first move towards starting a process of welfare for journalists and their working conditions. It should also become a hub to upscale skills of journalists.”