The executive editor of Kashmir Times on Saturday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court and sought directions to ensure that the state created an enabling environment for journalists and other media personnel in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The debilitating restrictions imposed through the complete shutdown on internet and telecommunication services, and severe curbs on the movement of photo journalists and reporters be immediately relaxed in order to ensure the freedom of the press and media,” the petition read.
The police in Jammu and Kashmir had eased restrictions on Friday, placed on public gatherings for afternoon prayers. Phone services and internet connections were partially restored in the morning and restrictions on movement were eased to facilitate the prayers. The ease on restrictions came five days after the central government imposed a security lockdown of the state and cut off all communication channels, including landline phones, internet services and cellphones, ahead of its decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
The petitioner Anuradha Bhasin said the restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. She said the shutdown fueled anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir.
“The petitioner has not been able to print and publish the Kashmir edition of Kashmir Times as the complete and absolute restrictions on all communication services and movement has resulted in the imposition of blockade on media activities, including reporting and publishing on the situation in Kashmir,” it added.
It said information blackout was a “direct and grave violation of the right of the people to know about the decisions that directly impact their lives and their future”. The petitioner said it stopped the media from reporting the developments and from knowing the opinions of the citizens of the state.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday gave his assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which seeks to convert the state into a Union Territory and to separate Ladakh into another union territory. Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will come into existence as union territories on October 31.