The Editors Guild of India on Saturday said it was “deeply concerned” over the lack of press freedom in Jammu and Kashmir as a result of continued communication blackout. This is the guild’s first statement since the intense security clampdown was imposed in the region on Sunday.
“While some visiting journalists may be able to file their reports once they are out of the Valley, the lockdown is almost total and draconian for the vibrant local media that are the first eyes and ears on the ground,” the guild said in its statement. It added that it was the government’s duty to allow the press to function freely.
The Editors Guild of India said the role of a free media was even more important in the prevailing situation. “The Guild underlines the imprudence in creating an unfair distinction in the treatment: for access, curfew passes, communication between local journalists and those coming in to report from outside,” it said. “All journalists and all Indian citizens are entitled to equal freedoms.”
The guild urged the government, to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of all journalists reporting from the ground. “Media transparency has and always should be India’s strength, not fear,” it added.
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.