Present curbs in Kashmir comparable to 1990s: petitioner

Local journalists not being heard: Anuradha Bhasin

Published - August 18, 2019 05:15 am IST - New Delhi

The present restrictions and clampdown on the media is comparable to that in the early 90s, executive editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin said. The Supreme Court, on Friday, refrained from giving any ruling on her plea challenging the restrictions imposed on journalists in Jammu and Kashmir recommending a “wait-and-watch” policy.

Ms. Bhasin was speaking during a press interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps on Saturday.

She said Kashmir had seen human rights violations, partial or complete ban on Internet and mobile connectivity, but this was the first time since the early 1990s when the fixed line phones too had stopped working and the mobility of journalists had been completely affected. “This is the first time in 30 years that I have no information of what is happening in the Valley or parts of Jammu directly from our reporters. We are relying on the information being published in Delhi papers or the international press,” Ms. Bhasin said.

Many hurdles

Ms. Bhasin said that while journalists from Delhi were able to report from the Valley, the local journalists were not allowed to move around. They were further hamstrung by the limited budgets under which they worked. The newspapers printed out of Kashmir had reduced the number of copies, to save on the newsprint. Just the usual process of printing a newspaper everyday was a challenge having to navigate innumerable barricades. There are close to 150 publications in Jammu and Kashmir. “We have a huge media presence in the Valley but their voices are not being heard,” Ms. Bhasin added.

The only difference between the 1990s and today, Ms. Bhasin said, was that then the reporters and newspapers owners were physically intimidated by both militants and the government, and now conditions had been created to completely paralyse the press.

The Supreme Court, while not outrightly rejecting her petition, prescribed patience over positive judicial action. On her plan of action if the apex court disposed of her petition entirely, she said, “I am hopeful and I have faith in the Indian Constitution. I don’t think the courts would let us down.”

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