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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Modi-led government is silencing journalists in occupied Kashmir

Apart from extralegal detentions and implementation of draconian laws, Modi-led government, so-called largest democracy of the world, continues to silence journalists and members of civil society.

In Indian-occupied Kashmir, citizens, as well as journalists, continue to face the “worst kind” of the situation in an “open prison”. In the latest report, The Telegraph highlighted the state of journalism in the valley. According to the report, there are no internet facilities in IoK. Analysts told GVS that the BJP-led government in India cannot afford to let Kashmiris speak out since everyone from the valley shall come out against the atrocities being committed by the Indian army and paramilitary forces.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the communications blackout has created an information black hole in occupied Kashmir and the local press bore the brunt of the blockade as its functioning was crippled, the newspaper said.

Journalists are continuously complaining that they have been unable to file their reports due to the unavailability of internet services. “The authorities also snapped the broadband internet connection at Kashmir Press Club on August 5. This move meant that the over 200 club members belonging to the local journalist fraternity could not file their reports.”

The Telegraph reported that later, a limited internet facility was provided at a makeshift media center set up by the information department in a Srinagar hotel. The media center was then moved to two small rooms of the information department where hundreds of journalists had to jostle for space to get a few minutes of internet access.

Read more: An American & an Indian Journalist together report the horrors of Kashmir

“I haven’t been able to call officials and/or sources for months. At the media center we had to wait in queues for long simply to mail our stories,” said a local journalist. “It’s frustrating and humiliating. It is very difficult to continue working in these circumstances,” he deplored. Another local journalist said how many like him had been forced to travel to New Delhi, India, frequently to access the internet and continue filing stories.

Kashmir Press Club’s elected board raised the issue of the communications gag with the authorities on several occasions, urging them to restore the internet for journalists and media outlets, including newspaper offices and the club. “But all these efforts have proved to be futile as these services have not been restored to journalists for over four months now.”

Human Rights Violations in Kashmir

Pakistan has been making all possible efforts to highlight the state of human rights in Indian occupied Kashmir where innocent Kashmiris are being targeted. Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to immediately set up an independent investigation commission to probe human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir as recommended in the two OHCHR reports on the disputed territory.

A report was also issued by the UN expressing severe reservations over human rights violations in the valley. The report of the United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on Kashmir concluded that the situation in India occupied Kashmir is worst. Christine Chung, one of the authors of the report was invited to the event by the sub-committee.

It is worth noting here that the OHCHR issued its first-ever report on the situation in Kashmir on June 14, 2018. The report highlights the protests after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 and the brutal use of pellet guns against protesters among the human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir. The report noted that Indian armed forces not only use force indiscriminately but also rape and humiliate Kashmiri women. A member of the European Parliament also called on India “to end violence against women & children in IOK. Voices of Kashmiri women & children must be heard.”

Read more: Genocide of Kashmiris: OIC’s Human Rights Commission condemns India

The international community has raised its concerns over the brutalities being committed by India. Recently, the European Parliament stood up for the people of Kashmir. “Members of the European Parliament called on India to immediately put a halt to its atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir and carry out investigations into the incidents of grave human rights violations.”