Jammu, Aug 15: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Monday said there is a propaganda that there is no freedom of expression in India, but that is not the truth.
“There are 392 news channels in the country which is more than even the United States of America which has close to 100 channels. This speaks volume of the freedom of the media and true nature of democracy in India,” he said, launching ‘News18 Jammu Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal’ on the 75th anniversary of Independence.
He said he was a true supporter of freedom of speech. “But we must all also remember that when the Constitution of India was being prepared, all Indians were given the right of freedom of expression under 19 (1), but 19 (2) also put in some restrictions which I believe are not just restrictions, but duties,” he said.
He said there is a need to mind the fine line between freedom of expression, and the expression that hurts the nation. “The Constitution clearly mention Rights of every individual, but it also mentions our duties. The problem arises, when people only talk about the rights and forget their duties.” he said.
Speaking about global reports on freedom of expression in India, he said the flourishing landscape of media in India is an example that media is “much more free in India than in any other country in the world”. He said in the past one year, 27 journalists were detained in the United States of America, 51 in China and 25 in Turkey, but only seven in India.
“Those detained in India were charged with propagating fake news and these are not my numbers or the number of Indian government, but those available internationally,” he said. “Today, there is a propaganda that there is no freedom of expression in India, but that is not the truth,” he said.
About the new channel, he said, “I have been told that Network18 has already been presenting news in 15 languages and I am hopeful that it will strive to include all regional languages.” He said there has been a massive change in Jammu and Kashmir the foundation of which was “laid in the Parliament on August 5, 2019”.
He added, “When we decided to celebrate the Independence day in schools (in J&K), people argued it had never happened before, but today not only the Independence day is being celebrated in schools, but in every home.”
“There was a time when people used to say we won’t find people to wave the tricolour, but today we are proud to say that we have so many people come to us that it became difficult to provide everyone with a flag,” he said. He said development works are happening at a faster pace in J&K with roads, for example, being laid out at a rate of 20 km per day.
“Malls, towers and hotels are coming up in Jammu and Kashmir. Several international firms are showing interest in investing here. An approximate Rs 56,000 crore worth of development works are in line today, and while once people had to run from pillar to post to get documents, Jammu and Kashmir is today number 1 in e-governance among UTs and 5th when compared to States.” The lieutenant governor said the youth of Jammu and Kashmir today are focused on up-skilling themselves rather than taking up guns.
“Today J&K has the lowest VAT on air fuel and we are proud to say that it has helped the UT increase tourism. Almost 1.16 crore people came to Kashmir in the last one year, something that was previously unheard of. Rather, finding a hotel room is a bigger problem in Kashmir.”