Media Groups Denounce Blocking of Kashmir Walla, Gaon Savera Accounts

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The Editors Guild of India urged the government to release the orders of suspension in the public domain and follow the due process laid down by the Supreme Court in this regard

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — Several media groups have denounced the blocking of the Kashmir-based news website, its social media accounts and the social media handles of the Haryana-based Hindi news outlet Gaon Savera.

On Sunday, The Kashmir Walla said: “On Saturday, August 19, we woke up to another deadly blow of finding access to our website and social media accounts blocked”. Its editor Fahad Shah is behind bars under terror charges for 18 months.

This week, the Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) handles of Goan Savera, which covers issues related to farmers by journalist Maneep Punia, were also blocked by social media platforms allegedly at the direction of the government.

Expressing its grave concern and strong condemnation, the Press Club of India and some other media bodies on Thursday said: “The Press Club of India and the undersigned media bodies as institutions dedicated to upholding principles of free speech, independent journalism, and democratic values of our country, find the blocking of Kashmir Walla’s digital platforms unilaterally without citing any reason deeply alarming. The act of blocking access without any prior notice, official communication, or an opportunity for the concerned party to address any grievance is a clear violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution.”

The media bodies also criticised the arrest of Shah calling it a “chilling message” to journalists across the country.

In a statement, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) also criticised the government for blocking the Kashmir website.

“The Guild is disturbed by the censorship measures undertaken by MeitY, without following due processes and against principles of natural justice. In the judgment of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court of India had expressly laid down that all reasonable efforts must be made to identify and notify the people whose information is sought to be blocked before access is restricted, as well as a right to appeal,” the EGI said.

The EGI urged the government to release the orders of suspension in the public domain and follow the due process laid down by the Supreme Court.

Talking about blocking of his outlet’s social media handles, Mandeep Punia, the editor of Gaon Savera, told The Newslaundry that the government’s action is linked to the ongoing farmer protests in Punjab, which Gaon Savera has been covering in-depth.

“The government takes action when you start providing concrete information about the rural crisis. They don’t want you to report on how farmers and workers are mobilising to combat this rural crisis,” Punia added.

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