Editors Guild concerned at communication restrictions in Kashmir

It says that in a situation such as that prevailing in J&K, the role of free media, unhindered by restrictions, becomes ‘critically important’ in news dissemination

Curfew has been clamped in the Valley and all communication means snapped since Aug 5 (file photo, PTI)
Curfew has been clamped in the Valley and all communication means snapped since Aug 5 (file photo, PTI)

NH Web Desk

The Editors Guild of India on Saturday said it was “deeply concerned” at the continued shutdown in communication links with the Kashmir Valley, and termed it as “almost total and draconian”.

Kashmir has been under a shutdown since August 5 when the Union government declared it had decided to abrogate Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

Urging the government to immediately restore communication links from Kashmir, the editors body stressed that media transparency has been “India’s strength, not fear”, and that it should remain so.

Here is the full statement of the Editors Guild:

The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over the continued shutdown in communication links with the Kashmir Valley and the consequent curtailment of the media’s freedom and ability to report fairly and accurately on current developments.

While some visiting journalists may be able to file their reports once they are out of the Valley, the lockdown is almost total and draconian for the vibrant local media that are the first eyes and ears on the ground.

The government knows very well that it is impossible to process and publish news now without the internet. It owes it to the people of India, including all in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, to allow the press, a vital institution of democracy, to function freely.

In a situation such as that prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir at present, the role of free media, unhindered by such restrictions, becomes critically important in helping dissemination of news and in its democratic duty of keeping a watch on institutions of government and security.

The Guild underlines the imprudence in creating an unfair distinction in the treatment: for access, curfew passes, communication between local journalists and those coming in to report from outside. All journalists and all Indian citizens are entitled to equal freedoms.

The Guild urges the government to take immediate steps to restore normalcy for the media’s communication links. Media transparency has and always should be India’s strength, not fear.

The Guild expresses its appreciation for and solidarity to all journalists reporting from the ground despite unprecedented challenges. The Guild requests all, especially the government, to ensure their safety and freedom of movement.

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