RNA - “Journalism in Jammu and Kashmir is under a dramatic state of repression,” Ravi R Prasad, the director of advocacy at the Vienna-based IPI, said in a statement on Thursday.
“The state is using a mix of harassment, intimidation, surveillance and online information control to silence critical voices and force journalists to resort to self-censorship,” he said.
The global media watchdog urged the Indian government to end the restrictions placed on journalists in Kashmir following New Delhi’s revocation of the region’s semi-autonomy last August.
It further asked the Indian government to restore full internet and social media access in the disputed territory, where slow-speed internet service was restored earlier this month after nearly seven months of blackout.
The IPI said journalists had been unable to report developments in Kashmir as a result of either having no access to the internet or being provided with only restricted access. It said they had been forced to rely merely on press briefs issued sporadically by the state government without being able to verify the assertions in those briefs.
“Press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir is under serious threat from the security forces and the regional administration since August ,” it added.
In a surprise move on August 5, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the semi-autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. And thousands of additional troops were dispatched to the Himalayan region to enforce a strict curfew. Telecommunications and internet services were also shut down, and political leaders and pro-independence campaigners were arrested.
Many international watchdogs have criticized the Indian government’s security and communication lockdown of Kashmir. In a statement last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged the authorities in New Delhi to stop the harassment of journalists in the region.
The Indian authorities have been flatly denying the repression of journalists in the region.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars over the territory in the past.
Recently, Hindu mobs abetted by security forces launched a campaign of violence against Muslims in the capital, New Delhi.