To press for lifting curbs on media in the valley, the Kashmir journalist fraternity from across the spectrum on Thursday staged a sit in protest against the communication blockade which today entered 60th day. The journalists demanded free access to internet and communication.
All the media associations representing journalists,photojournalists,video journalists, editors of local newspapers and members of the Kashmir Press Club, participated in the peaceful protest inside the Kashmir Press Club premises to highlight the problems faced by the journalists due to the communication blockade that was imposed by the government during the night on August 4,2019.
The protesting journalists described the communication blockade, including the snapping of internet services across all the platforms as an attempt to muzzle the press in valley.
“While limiting the access of media to a hall hired at a private hotel designated as Media Facilitation centre where the government has setup nine computers and a cell phone connection for over 400 journalists- the government has attempted to prevent the information out of the valley,”the protesting journalists said.
The communication blackout, especially the snapping of internet and mobile services, is seriously hampering the professional work of journalists operating in the valley. ”How long can the journalists of the valley rely solely on official releases and occasional press briefings that have always been one way communication?”
By holding the joint sit in protest today the journalistic fraternity of Kashmir wants to convey in unambiguous terms that they had enough of it –sixty days of restrictions on media , sixty days without any communication and sixty days of an information from the government.
While highlighting the problems faced by the media fraternity in Kashmir the protesting journalists said that they are unable to cover their assignments due to prevailing communication gag imposed by the government. In absence of the internet and broadband services, the local newspapers published from Srinagar have not been able to upload their internet editions or update news on the web portals.
There have been no clear answers from the government that why it has barricaded the Kashmir journalist fraternity under a communication blockade, the protesting journalists said. “The government must come up with an answer on how long the crackdown on news would continue?”
By limiting the access and continuing with communications gag, the government aims to reduce the journalists as its mouthpieces.
As such as all the associations including Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA), Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA), Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA), Kashmir Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ). Kashmir News Television Journalist Association (KNTJA), Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), JK Editors Forum (JKEF), Video Journalists Association and Journalist Federation of Kashmir (JFK) which participated in the joint protest today demanded lifting of the communication gag, which includes restoring the mobile and internet facility to the newspaper offices and other media houses.
Earlier in the meeting,all the associations decided to form a committee to pursue lifting of communication gag with the government authorities.