BJP leader Lal Singh addresses a press conference in Jammu on June 22, 2018.BJP leader Lal Singh addresses a press conference in Jammu on June 22, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Senior BJP leader Chaudhary Lal Singh on Saturday evoked sharp reactions from journalist groups and political parties for his remarks warning Kashmir-based journalists to “mend ways” over the reporting of the Kathua rape and murder,while referring to the assassination of Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari.

“Kashmiri journalists should draw a line on the journalism they do. Do they have to face [something] like what happened to Basharat [referring to Shujaat Bukhari], so that such a situation emerges. So mend your ways and draw a line, so that this brotherhood remains intact and there is progress,” Mr. Singh said in an interview on Friday.

Mr. Singh was dropped from the Mehbooba Mufti Cabinet earlier this year for his rally and speech made in Kathua to those who supporting the accused in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old in Kathua. His younger brother also faced an FIR for using “foul language against Ms. Mufti in a public rally”.

Several political parties and journalists’ bodies sought action against the BJP leader for the “threatening” remarks.

“Journalists in Kashmir just got threatened by a MLA. It seems Shujaat’s death is now a tool for goons to use to threaten other journalists,” said National Conference vice-president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Call for arrest

NC spokesman Junaid Mattoo asked the police to lodge an FIR against the BJP leader.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a former ally of the BJP, urged Governor N.N. Vohra “to immediately book and arrest Mr. Singh for his derogatory remarks”.

“Keeping in view Mr. Singh’s continuous rants against the people of Kashmir and trying to stoke the communal passions in the State, it is highly unfortunate that elements like him are allowed to roam freely,” said PDP general secretary Mansoor Hussain Sohrawardy.

Meanwhile, the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), a body of Valley-based editors, termed the remarks “criminal”. “The KEG reserves the right to lodge a police case against the lawmaker who, earlier as well, named a number of reporters for his fall from grace in wake of the Kathua probe, now in a trial stage. The Congress-turned-BJP politician has seemingly talked on Kashmir media from a point of strength and possible information about the recent killing in Srinagar,” said the KEG statement.

The Kashmir Working Journalists Association and the J&K Press Association, also condemned Mr. Singh’s remarks.

“The bullying statement made against Kashmiri journalists is unwarranted and condemnable,” the KWJA spokesman said.

The Hindu