Stop fiddling with constitutional rights under the garb of checking fake news: Ashraf Mir
SRINAGAR, June 15: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) leader and former minister Mohammad Ashraf Mir on Monday urged the J&K government to go for a review of proposed media policy in consultation with representatives of the media fraternity.
In a statement issued here, Mir said the policy related to media in J&K seems to have been superficially drafted without taking into consideration the fundamental constitutional requirements guaranteeing the right to freedom of expression.
“How can the government authorize the bureaucrats to squeeze the spirit of fourth estate under the garb of a policy which has apparently been drafted without consulting the editors’ bodies or association of accredited journalists in J&K?” the JKAP leader asked.
He also expressed deep concern over the plight of the media industry in J&K which has been battling for survival in prevailing circumstances. “Instead of allowing the media including print, online and electronic platforms to highlight the miseries of people and point out the lacunas in the governance system, the government seems to be threatening them of dire consequences for playing the role of a watchdog,” Mir remarked.
He said while there is a dire need to check fake news, subversive information and yellow journalism in Jammu and Kashmir, but, that does not mean the journalists would be asked to go for an embedded role and forget about impartiality which is an essential prerequisite for professional journalism.
“There is a dire need to enhance the advertisement rates for print as well as electronic media in view of the escalation in printing costs, growing inflation, and the COVID situation. The government must offer incentives to media houses in view of their financial constraints due to the pandemic situation and redraft the media policy which addresses the concern of all stakeholders,” he demanded.
JKAP censures Govt. for hike in road tax on Sgr-Jammu national highway
Avoidable duties should be abolished forthwith: Rafi Ahmad Mir
SRINAGAR, June 15: Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party(JKAP) leader and former legislator Rafi Ahmad Mir on Monday censured the government for a hike in road tax levied on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Awantipora, Nashree-Chenani Tunnel and Unhampur toll plazas and demanded immediate abolition of such avoidable tolls.
In a statement issued here, Mir said imposing and increasing the road tolls will further alienate masses at a time when the government is expected to provide some succour to the people who are battling for their survival amid COVID pandemic.
“The increase in road tax would not only hamper the domestic tourism badly but would prove a heavy burden on the commuters who use this highway for a routine inter district travel,” he remarked.
Mir said that paying taxes is no doubt the duty of every citizen but first the J&K government needs to introspect the fact that people are passing through tough times because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their economic conditions.
“We were given a notion by the government last year that post-GST, tariff-based barriers have been removed completely. The continuation of the road tax regime, therefore, militates against the idea of ‘one nation, one tax.
“Tariff-based import or export of commodities into and from the UT distorts the trade regime also. It acts against the overall consumer interest by imposing an avoidable cost on them,” the JKAP leader observed.
He said the imposition of toll tax not only penalises consumers by increasing the cost of commodities entering and exiting from the UT but it also affects the common people who travel on this road because of the dilapidated condition of their other alternatives.
The way, J&K UT administration abolished all inter-state minor toll posts, those setup at railway stations and airports and the one at Lakhanpur, Mir appealed the Lieutenant Governor G.C Murmu, go for abolition of road tax at different toll plazas on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway to provide a relief to the people.
He also castigated the administration for delay in distribution of travel passes to the locals having private vehicles, living within 20 kilometres radius of toll plazas on this highway.
“The divisional administration in Kashmir had assured that local vehicles at Chachkoot toll plaza near Awantipora falling under a radius of 20 Kilometres of toll plaza would be exempted from tax. But it seems the divisional administration has not fulfilled its assurances and instead people are subjected to pay an enhanced toll at these plazas,” he opined.