The Internet shutdown has created an information black hole in Kashmir by crippling the functioning of the local press and severely curtailing its coverage of how the people have been affected, Senior CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said on Friday.
He said Valley based journalists have had to stand in queues at the ”Media Facilitation Centre” – set up by the administration in Srinagar – and rely on a dozen computers with internet access to file their stories and communicate with their editors.
“As Internet shutdown in Kashmir for the last nearly six months has virtually stopped free flow of information, journalists continue to face severe restrictions in all processes of news gathering, verification and dissemination leaving behind a troubled silence that bodes ill for freedom of expression and media freedom,” Tarigami said in a statement.
“Internet facilities remain inadequate for hundreds of journalists and district reporters who can”t make it to the centre every day,” he added.
This has virtually made them dependent on the state, and submission to government-regulated conditions makes a mockery of freedom of the press, the CPI(M) leader said.
“There were no reports on the effects of the communication shutdown on everyday lives of people, arrests, crippling of healthcare and other emergency services. What was not covered in the local press said a lot about the curtailment of the freedom of the press”, he said.
The Constitution provides the right of freedom, given in Article 19 with the view of guaranteeing individual rights that were considered vital by the framers of the Constitution, he said.
“As we are going to celebrate 71st Republic Day in two days time, it is imperative on democratic forces including, intelligentsia and the civil society at large, to put their heads together, discuss the situation intensively and highlight the sufferings of people of Jammu and Kashmir and make this BJP government accountable,” he said.