With restrictions in place for the movement of journalists in Kashmir, and all forms of communication blocked, including, for the first time, fixed-line phone services, there is a severe lack of news reporting both in and from the Valley.
While local newspapers are forced to reduce the number of pages, given the lack of Internet access or other form of communication and also since even the local staff are unable to reach offices, Kashmir Press Club general secretary Ishfaq Tantray on Saturday appealed to the Press Council of India and international journalists’ associations to take up with the government the issue of this “media gag”.
“The authorities this time have blocked even land-line (phone) services. Worse, they are (not issuing) curfew passes to the media, and it appears the aim is to ensure that reports from Kashmir do not go out. I approached the District Magistrate, but he refused to meet (me) at his office,” Tantray said.
He added, “In absence of curfew passes and the absence of means of communication, it is impossible for journalists working for local, national and international media.”
A journalist working with ‘Rising Kashmir’, a Srinagar-based English daily, said: “From 20 pages, we have reduced our newspaper to only four pages. Even the staff from Srinagar are unable to reach office. There are no curfew passes issued to any journalist, and it has badly affected our work.”
In the absence of ways to gather news, the journalist said they are listening to the news on television and writing them for the newspaper.
A Valley-based journalist working for a national daily said he has met several government officials to look for Internet connectivity, but “we are told there is no connectivity”.
Several journalists are reported to have approached the Police Control Room looking for Internet connectivity, but most of them were not let in. Sources said only TV channels have been able to send feed to offices outside through outside broadcasting (OB) vans, which have satellite communication.