SRINAGAR — The situation for journalists working in Kashmir is utterly disabling and perilous post the government of India’s move to abrogate Articles 370, 35A to remove special status for the state on August 5 as the state has been put under unprecedented telecommunications blackout amid restrictions on the movement of people, said Journalists bodies of Kashmir in a joint statement.
While the residents of Kashmir Valley have been denied access to working phones or internet for the past three weeks (which is a humanitarian crisis), journalists and media houses in the region have been left in similar state, leaving them disabled to even report on the miseries of the residents.
Coupled with harassment and pressures from government agencies, the local media have almost been rendered defunct, said the media peoples’ associations in J&K.
Newspapers are unable to bring out full editions, unable to access and process information about day-to day happening. Restrictions have also curbed their movement and above all, media people are afraid to even question the crippling atmosphere.
Unlike in the past, the local media is avoiding reports about human rights violations and even not reporting about local protests, clashes, large-scale arrests, and detentions. Journalists are scared to question the official propaganda and sticking to government handouts, even if they fail to make sense on the ground.
The government on its part has been generous to provide three computers with a jarring internet connection at a temporary media centre, wherefrom hundreds of journalists, both local and visiting, have the only access to emails and internet.
Kashmir journalist bodies, Kashmir Working Journalists Association and Kashmir Journalists Association, fail to understand why the journalists and media houses in Kashmir are denied access to internet, and telephones, even when the government itself admits that things have been under control in Kashmir and the situation in returning to normalcy.
Snapping all means of communications, for people as well as journalists, are recipe for humanitarian disaster, said the jounalists bodies adding that restrictions on communication means are not seen even during wars at a scale as it has been enforced in Kashmir.