Media persons, including journalists and photo-journalists, staged a sit-in protest in here against a gag on internet which completed 100 days today.
Media persons, belonging to different local, national and international media house, assembled inside Kashmir Press Club in Srinagar and held a sit-in protest against the suspension of broadband and mobile internet on August 5, when Article 370 and Article 35A were scrapped by the Centre.
Holding placards which read, “Stop humiliating Kashmiri journalists, “100 days, no internet,” besides other slogans, the journalists waved their laptops with black screens to register their protest against the gag on internet, which has badly affecting their day-to-day work.
The journalists demanded uninterrupted internet accessibility to them so that they can fulfill their duties. “Internet connectivity should be given to all media houses operating in the valley so that media persons can work properly,” the journalists demanded.
They said that by not giving the journalists’ access to internet at their respective offices, the administration was not allowing them to work properly. “It becomes very difficult for media persons to move to-and-fro from office to Media Facilitation Centre and to the place they go to cover stories. It is very time consuming and takes a huge chunk of our time,” they alleged.
Journalists working for different local, national and international media organizations too had to taste the ban on communication. Internet service of all media organizations, including newspapers and news agencies, remained suspended since August 5.
Ten days later, the State Information Department (SID) opened a “Facilitation Centre” for journalists in Sonwar area of the city from where they can file stories to their respective media organizations. However, for any information from far flung and remote areas, journalists are dependent on government briefing only.
The Centre was later shifted to Directorate of Information in Polo View in Srinagar.
Scores of media persons in the first week of October took out a protest rally in Srinagar, demanding restoration of their internet and mobile phones.
During today’s protest while speaking to reporters, senior journalist Parvez Bukhari said, “We are protesting the ban on internet and it is definitely choking journalism in Kashmir, making day to day work difficult and we are also protesting against the lack of infrastructure at government run Media Facilitation Centre. We are demanding that internet service should be restored.”
Another senior journalist Naseer Ganaie said that there is no privacy at government run media facilitation centre. “There are only few computers and you do not get enough time for professional work. It is really frustrating,” he said.
Some of the protesting journalists said that Kashmir is the only place in the world where journalists are being deprived of internet. “We are being forced to avail of the internet service at media facilitation centre and it is so insulting there. You have to wait for hours for your turn and besides the frequent internet breakdown there add to your woes,” they said.
A journalist said it is really ironical that media fraternity has been deprived of all facilities in Kashmir and nobody listens to them.