The Editors Guild of India on Saturday expressed concern about the lockdown in Kashmir and the “consequent curtailment of the media’s freedom and ability to report”, and asked the government to ensure safety of journalists there and their freedom of movement.
In a statement, the Guild underlined “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” and emphasised that “all journalists and all Indian citizens are entitled to equal freedoms”.
While some visiting journalists may be able to file their reports once they are out of the Valley, the Guild said, “the lockdown is almost total and draconian for the vibrant local media that are the first eyes and ears on the ground”. It reminded the government that it “knows very well that it is impossible to process and publish news now without the internet” and that the government “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”.
Given the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, it said, “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”. It also expressed deep concern “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”. Urging the government to “take immediate steps to restore normalcy for the media’s communication links”, the Guild said that “media transparency has and always should be India’s strength, not fear”.