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Kashmir Press Club slams ‘deliberate’ denial of Internet access, ask Centre to abide by SC ruling

Photo: Facebook/@KashmirPressClubSrg

Photo: Facebook/@KashmirPressClubSrg  

The authorities had overlooked ‘net neutrality’ and whitelisted only 301 websites, avoiding a majority of local news websites, national and international news websites, the press club noted.

The Kashmir Press Club (KPC), comprising about 250 working journalists and editors, on Tuesday asserted that the continuing denial of Internet access to members of the media in the Valley was “a deliberate attempt to stifle the Press in the region”.

“We once again remind the government about its duties to ensure freedom of press as well as right to access the Internet, which the Supreme Court declared as an integral part of Article 19 (10) (A),” a KPC spokesman said.

Pointing to the recent Supreme Court verdict defining access to the Internet as a constitutionally guaranteed right, the KPC said the government appeared to have made no headway in ensuring that this right was available to the media fraternity in the Valley.

“This becomes evident as the government has singled out media organisations and journalists by not restoring their Internet,” the spokesman for the press club said, observing that the Internet blockade in Kashmir had, as on Tuesday, completed 177 days. “In fact, there is no direction to Internet Service Providers about restoring Internet to media houses and journalists,” he asserted.

The KPC members also claimed that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) had sought a written undertaking agreeing “to provide complete access to all content and infrastructure as and when required by security agencies”. “This is a serious breach of individual rights and right to privacy,” they said.

The authorities had overlooked ‘net neutrality’ and whitelisted only 301 websites, a listing in which the majority of local news websites, national and international news websites had been dropped, the press club noted. “It is hard to understand the process or yardstick adopted for whitelisting the websites,” they said.

The statement comes as the government has already started a process to restore Internet in phases to government offices, hotels, travel companies and hospitals. The administration is yet to restore fixed line broadband Internet in Kashmir even after about six months of the blackout.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 6:49:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kashmir-press-club-slams-deliberate-denial-of-internet-access-ask-centre-to-abide-by-sc-ruling/article30676017.ece

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