Valley is shrouded in media blackout: Kashmir journalist in Mumbai
The Valley is “shrouded in a media blackout and a communication blockade” since August 5, after the Central government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution, said Anuradha Bhasin, the editor of Kashmir Times.
Bhasin, while interacting with citizens and journalists in Mumbai on Tuesday on the ‘Media Blackout in Kashmir’, said that of the 150 newspapers that print from Kashmir, only a dozen have managed to get on the stands. “Communication is difficult for journalists in the Valley due to the Internet and mobile phone network blockade and because government officials are unwilling to speak and confirm any news,” Bhasin said.
She also claimed that journalists from the Valley feel intimidated about the developments in Kashmir. “There is a huge sense of intimidation under which journalists are doing a story as our work is under constant surveillance,” she said.
She believes that the information clampdown is not only to ensure that there is less violence, “but to also ensure that the ugliness, in whatever form it is won’t come out.” Bhasin said that the lives of the locals in the Kashmir Valley are “being pushed behind an invisible wall”, as many Kashmiris have self-imposed a civil curfew. “Few private taxis run on roads and at exorbitant rates and the economy is shattered as shops are shut,” she said.
Constitutional lawyer Aspi Chinnoy, who was also present at the event, equated the situation to the Emergency. “The government has not provided a legislative basis to the situation by declaring an emergency, but its actions are like de-facto emergency.”
However, Chinoy added the the situation in Kashmir is a complex one and always has been. “There are far bigger issues bearing on Kashmir that derive this outcome. But the decision taken on August 5 only worsens the situation.”