‘In IIOJK journalists also facing hurdles in performing duties’

In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, while people from all walks of life have been facing severe difficulties after the Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government of Bharatiya Janata Party illegally repealed Kashmir’s special status on August 5, last year and imposed a military siege, the journalists are also facing hurdles in performing their professional duties.

Yousuf Jameel, a Srinagar-based prominent journalist, wrote in an article published on Voice of America-Urdu.com that when the Indian government abolished Article 370 on August 5, 2019, it was not only regional but also big news globally. He wrote that complaints about detention of journalists, who were critical of the Indian government, had been common over the past one year, while communication restrictions and the closure of the Internet had made it difficult for them to continue their journalistic duties.

He wrote that several journalists, who opposed the Indian government’s measures, were charged with sedition and many are still imprisoned, while, the Indian government has claimed that there are no restrictions on expression in the Valley and that journalists are not being harassed.

On the other hand, the international human rights organization, Amnesty International, called for the immediate release of journalists, the lifting of restrictions on the media and the necessary steps to ensure the protection of freedom of expression in the occupied territory. Amnesty has also said that the authorities’ measures are tantamount to media censorship which are undemocratic.

The article said that Amnesty International had also released a documentary on “Freedom of the Press and Media in Jammu and Kashmir” highlighting the plight of Kashmiri journalists and the steps taken by the Indian government after August 5, 2019. Journalists have mentioned the steps taken by the Indian agencies, especially the police, against journalists.

Earlier in April, New York-based Human Rights Watch had expressed concern over registration of criminal cases against three local journalists and described such measures as a violation of press freedom.

One year of the Indian move, the Asia Federation Solidarity Network, along with the International Federation of Journalists and the Alliance of Journalists’ Associations in South Asia, issued a joint statement calling for the restoration of high-speed internet. The statement also expressed concern over the difficulties faced by journalists and media outlets due to the continued ban on high-speed internet and called for the immediate restoration of the facility.

Yousuf Jamil wrote that according to statistics, 18 journalists have been killed, so far, in the last three decades and many have been tortured over the past year. He wrote that after August 5, 2019, although phone and low speed 2G internet services were restored but high speed 4G internet services still remained suspended. He wrote that over the past year, journalists had been harassed and summoned to appear before police stations or police officers to present their reports and news.

Journalists were also pressured to reveal their sources of news, which led to complaints of torture. In April this year, police arrested three Kashmiri journalists, Gohar Geelani, Pirzada Ashiq and photojournalist, Musarat Zuhra.

He wrote that in June this year, Indian authorities introduced a new media policy that gave them the power to take action against a journalist or news organization that published news that does not go well with the authorities.