Kashmir Journalists Protest Two-Month Blackout

At least 11 media associations in Jammu and Kashmir, including Kashmir Press Club, on Thursday protested in Srinagar as communication blockade in the region entered 60th day.

The internet and mobile phones have been cut in most of the Kashmir Valley, a hotbed of resistance to Indian rule, since Aug. 5 when New Delhi rescinded the region’s autonomy.

To go online, the area’s 250 accredited journalists visit a government-run media centre in the main city of Srinagar where they wait often for hours to use one of the 10 computers for a maximum of 15 minutes.

“Every journalist has suffered and we demand from the government that the communications blackout be lifted,” a journalist told AFP news agency before a silent protest march.

Journalists hold placards during sit in protest against communication blockade in Srinagar, October 04, 2019.

“If a journalist is able to work freely, it shouldn’t worry the government. This is high time that restrictions on communication and internet services should be ended,” Zargar,another journalist  added.

There are no landlines at the media center. To use the one mobile phone, journalists must put their name on a list. They say that the computers are being monitored and that the internet is painfully slow.

There are also restrictions on movement for journalists, although these have been partially eased in recent weeks, particularly in rural areas. While Foreign journalists have been denied permission to visit the northern Himalayan region.

Because of what journalists say is government pressure, Kashmiri newspapers mostly publish only government handout statements, light-hearted human interest stories and practically nothing from outside Srinagar.

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