Curbs continue on Kashmir media; is it martial law in Srinagar?
Update 2 on 11 July: As was being feared, the state has begun to crackdown on Facebook users for ‘anti-India activiies’. I can already spot one Facebook account missing. Very soon they will ban eating, drinking, breathing and shitting and offer curfew passes to some for these activities.
In a clear signal that it continues to dictate what we get to know about the ground situation in Kashmir, curbs on the local media in the Valley continue despite government claims that they have been lifted. At the same time, Delhi journalists are able to freely move around and report in Srinagar. This is yet another blatant example of how the Indian state considers Kashmir its private property and the rights of its residents are secondary. As the Delhi media continues to do the bidding of the Home Ministry, the best sources of news on what’s happening on the ground remain Twitter and Facebook. Those updating their profiles and pages with information are doing so with the apprehension of censorship, state reprisal, blocking of these sites and suspension of internet services altogether in Kashmir.
Srinagar, July 9: Editors of Valley based newspapers on Friday ridiculed the government claim that it had lifted curbs on the local media and decided to suspend the publication of newspapers till authorities issue sufficient number of curfew passes for the staff members and distributors. [Greater Kashmir]
The state’s honesty about media freedom in Kashmir can be gauged by the planned violence inflicted upon a Kashmiri journalist working for BBC Urdu radio.
Perhaps Mirwaiz Omar Farooq is right: it’s martial law in Srinagar.
And In Jammu, is it time again for an economic blockade of Kashmir?
Given below is the text of a joint resolution from various media associations in Kashmir:
PRESS RELEASE MEDIA PROTEST AT PRESS COLONY
Srinagar: July, 10, 2010
Journalist fraternity in Kashmir has condemned strong-arm measures of government to curb smooth functioning of media in Kashmir. It has been made impossible for the journalists to cover news and also publish the newspapers. Therefore, in these circumstances, it has been decided to collectively suspend publication of all newspapers in Kashmir to protest against the draconian measures.
The decision was unanimously taken at a joint meeting of five representative bodies of media fraternity of Kashmir viz Kashmir Press Association, Press Guild of Kashmir, Kashmir Journalists Corps, Kashmir Press Photographers Association and Kashmir Video Journalists Association.
The meeting resolved that publication of newspapers couldn’t be resumed unless concrete measures are taken to restore complete freedom of media in Kashmir. Issues confronting media fraternity were discussed in detail particularly the brazen action against News X correspondent Suhail Bukhari and other members of the organization, who have been booked under numerous draconian laws. Fearing their lives, News X has shut its office in Srinagar as members of the staff were being harassed.
The meeting condemned the restrictions on media and expressed deep anguish over the unashamed approach of the government, which has not shown any respect for the media as an important institution. Instead the government has adopted a discriminatory attitude and not only facilitated entry of Delhi based journalists but has put all help, assistance and full government hospitality at their disposal so as to ensure the coverage of the events, as it deems suitable. The meeting also condemned the curbs imposed on cable TV networks in Kashmir while similar networks in other side of the state are allowed to air whatever they like.
This situation has completely paralysed the media in Kashmir, which is unprecedented in last 20 years. The meeting resolved that until a public assurance is, not only made but implemented in letter and spirit, that there will be no restriction on media and cases against media persons wihdrawn, media persons in Kashmir will not be in a position to do justice to their profession.