Press in IoK forced into silence by Modi-led India

SRINAGAR: In occupied Kashmir, the Modi-led Indian communal government has enforced a total communications blackout, snapping telephone services, including mobile and broadband internet after it revoked Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into Union Territories on August 5, Indian newspaper, The Telegraph reported.According to Kashmir Media Service, the communications blackout has created an information black hole in occupied Kashmir and the local press bore the brunt of the blockade as its functioning was crippled, the newspaper said.“The authorities also snapped the broadband internet connection at Kashmir Press Club on August 5. This move meant that the over 200 club members belonging to the local journalist fraternity could not file their reports.” The Telegraph reported that later, a limited internet facility was provided at a makeshift media centre set up by the information department in a Srinagar hotel. The media centre was then moved to two small rooms of the information department where hundreds of journalists had to jostle for space to get a few minutes of internet access. “I haven’t been able to call officials and/or sources for months. At the media centre we had to wait in queues for long simply to mail our stories,” said a local journalist. “It’s frustrating and humiliating. It is very difficult to continue working in these circumstances,” he deplored. Another local journalist said how many like him had been forced to travel to New Delhi, India, frequently to access the internet and continue filing stories. Kashmir Press Club’s elected board raised the issue of the communications gag with the authorities on several occasions, urging them to restore internet for journalists and media outlets, including newspaper offices and the club. “But all these efforts have proved to be futile as these services have not been restored to journalists for over four months now.” In the initial weeks of the clampdown and restrictions imposed after the revocation of Article 370, publication of local newspapers had to be suspended for several days.–Agencies