New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India Saturday expressed concern over the restrictions imposed on communication in Kashmir, calling the lockdown “draconian for the vibrant local media”.
In its statement, the Guild highlighted the resultant “curtailment of the media’s freedom and ability to report fairly and accurately on current developments”.
It asserted 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”.
“In a situation such as that prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir at present, 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 said.
The communication restrictions were imposed Sunday night hours before the government moved a resolution in the Parliament to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status granted under Article 370.
The government also bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and Ladakh without a legislature.
Guild urges safety of journalists reporting from the ground
The Guild also objected to the “unfair distinction” in granting access and curfew passes.
“The Guild underlines 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. All journalists and all Indian citizens are entitled to equal freedoms.”
It, therefore, urged the government to take “immediate steps to restore normalcy for the media’s communication links” and requested it to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of all the journalists reporting from the ground.
ThePrint had reported Friday that the government has decided to ease restrictions on communication in Jammu and Kashmir with landline numbers to be activated soon. Mobile internet services, however, will continue to remain suspended in the Valley.
Here is the link to full statement of the Guild: http://https://editorsguild.in/statements-issued/