In Kashmir, new rules prohibit students from interning or freelancing for news outlets

The students claim that the higher authorities’ intervention and directives for a trivial problem such as classwork makes them mistrust the true objective behind the move

Journalism students at Government College for Women have been directed not to pursue internships or work with news outlets till they enter the last semester of their honours programme, according to a ‘regulatory guideline’ released by the Cluster University of Srinagar.

The students would face action if caught breaking the regulations, according to the May 18, 2022 directive.

Authorities defend the new guidelines

The regulations are defended as an attempt to eschew the habit of students working unauthorizedly with private organizations at the expense of their normal classwork.

The standards are also intended to discourage students from ‘posing as regular or full-time journalists’ and misusing press credentials.

The varsity’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Mr Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, maintains that the authorities have no bad intent or ulterior agenda behind the move.

While speaking to a local newspaper, he said the enrolled students were wasting their time on internships and not attending lectures, so we were forced to take this step.

Students call the new regulations as ‘harrassment’

The course’s learners, on the other hand, have a different opinion.

On the condition of anonymity, a student said that this should not be seen merely as a matter of attendance.

The students say the higher authorities’ intervention and instructions for a minor issue like classwork “makes us doubt the real intention behind the move”.

Another student added that she has been working with many local newspapers in her free time after attending classes but she cannot continue with the same now. “This is just harassment, to say the least,” the girl student rued.

Move seen as tightening the gag on press freedom

The decision is being interpreted by the journalism community and students as an attempt to tighten the press restrictions in Kashmir even more.

A local journalist, who wished not to be named, said that the students worked with local media organizations and would get a real-life experience in the journalism field including the newsroom. “However, it looks like the authorities have decided to keep them away from the field and busy in lectures,” he added.

As per the journo, internships are an important component in every Journalism course, offered in India and globally. “But it seems the rules for journalism courses are now different in Kashmir to suit the new narrative,” he said, with a vague smile.

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