October 2019 News

Journalists In Kashmir Stage Silent Protest Against Communication Curbs

3 October 2019

Srinagar: Journalists in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday staged a silent protest against what they say has been a 'media gag' by authorities that has badly affected their ability to work for the last 60 days. A clampdown on communication lines has meant that for the two months, no newspaper has been able to bring out an online edition and editorials have disappeared from leading dailies. The central government had ended Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5 and split it into two union territories, saying the move would help ensure that people of the state get the same constitutional benefits as the rest of the country and spur development. To prevent any backlash, the centre also imposed massive security restrictions and took measures that included arresting politicians, posting extra troops and blocking phone and internet lines. Some of those curbs have been slowly relaxed, but mobile and internet communications in the Kashmir valley are largely still blocked, severely impacting the ability of journalists to report from the region. Carrying placards and wearing black badges, more than 100 Kashmiri journalists gathered inside the Kashmir Press Club premises in Srinagar to stage a protest, as street protests are still restricted. 'End information clampdown', 'Stop criminalising journalists', 'Journalism is not a crime', read placards held up during the silent protest. The government has provided an internet connection at a media centre set up for journalists, but reporters say this is insufficient and it lacks privacy. 'There's no privacy. Some 300 journalists use that facility daily and it is crowded. It is also being monitored and we are under surveillance,' said Ishfaq Tantray, general secretary of the Kashmir Press Club. Farzana Mumtaz, the editor of a local daily, said, 'I am not getting any news from districts. I don't have internet or phones through which I can contact my reporters. I am getting news after delay of two days.'