The Lead

Factional war breaks out as authorities put Kashmir Press Club registration in abeyance

SRINAGAR: A factional war broke out in the Kashmir Press Club (KPC) following the authorities’ decision to keep in abeyance the registration of the valley’s top journalist body.

A group of journalists led by M Saleem Pandit took over the management of the KPC till elections are held.

However, the existing body denounced the “forcible” takeover, saying it has set a “bad precedent”. Pandit was the founding president of the club till its maiden elections were held in July 2019. The other two members of the interim body are Zufliqar Majid as the general secretary and Arshad Rasool as the treasurer. The interim body will manage the club till fresh elections are held.

“The elected body served its tenure for a period of two years, which ended on July 14, 2021. As the previous committee delayed the elections for unknown reasons, the club was headless for around six months, putting media fraternity into unwanted trouble,” the interim body said in a statement.

”Now, therefore, on January 15, 2022, various journalist organisations across Kashmir valley unanimously decided to form an interim body of three members with Pandit as president,” it said.

Besides running the day-to-day affairs of the club, the interim body will also be authorised to form a required executive body which will help the KPC to flourish and grow into a modern press club much in need with the growing requirements, the statement said, adding that the new body has pledged to ensure the welfare of journalists as its top priority. However, the existing elected body of the club denounced the “forcible” takeover.

“There were no consultations with the existing body. We have been informed by the manager that they forced their entry into the press club, they have forced him to open the seals of the club. They did not show any government order and just declared that they are an interim body,” KPC general secretary Ishfaq Tantray said.

Tantray said the members of the interim body “threatened” the staff at the club and took over seals and writing pads.

“This is all illegal, they have no legality. They have set a bad precedent. Some non-members (of the club) were also part of this so-called meeting of the interim body. It is a theft of the trust of journalists,” Tantray said.

He said it was unfortunate the way things happened.

“A process was going on. We had submitted for verification, elections were announced. We were not going to stay there and we could not contest the elections as per the constitution. We had no interest to stay there,” Tantray said.

The administration has put in abeyance the registration of the KPC as a society. The administration’s move came hours after the KPC announced to conduct fresh elections.

The club had been granted registration on December 29 last year. In order, the Registrar of Society, Jammu and Kashmir, said the office of the senior superintendent of police, CID, has put on hold the non-involvement and verification of character and antecedent certificate of the members of the managing body of the KPC.

”The re-registration granted (to the KPC) on December 29, 2021, is hereby kept in abeyance till the receipt of the final report from additional district magistrate, Srinagar,” the order read.

The KPC had on Thursday announced it will hold elections to form a new body on February 15. However, after its registration was put in abeyance, the elections were deferred. (PTI)


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