WASHINGTON: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged the Indian authorities on Tuesday to stop harassing and obstructing the media in India-held Kashmir.
In a statement issued here, the CPJ noted that authorities in the region had prevented several newspapers from publishing for the past three days.
They also had shut down mobile internet services and blocked cable television, it added.
The CPJ said police raided newspaper offices in Srinagar on July 16, halting printing presses, confiscating printed papers due for delivery and briefly detaining printing and delivery staff. Publications, including Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir, Daily Kashmir Images, Kashmir Observer and Kashmir Reader, have been affected.
It noted that while many publications had been able to continue online operations, mobile internet services in the region have been shut down by the authorities since July 8, making it harder for readers to access current and accurate information.
The authorities had also blocked cable television on July 16 and the CPJ was unable to determine whether it had been restored, the statement said.
“The Indian government should immediately lift its ban on newspaper operations and restore the free flow of information,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator.
“It’s obvious that Kashmir’s longstanding difficulties have nothing to do with the operation of a free press, and that preventing professional journalists from doing their jobs can only make the situation worse.”
Newspaper editors and owners met on Saturday night to draw up plans to counter the ban. An editorial in the Kashmir Times defended the industry, saying, “to have considered the media a threat to peace is ridiculous”.
Instead, the paper argued, the press ban opened the door to rumours by unscrupulous players.