NEW YORK – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent supervising body, has expressed alarm at reports of a communication blackout and the arrest of a journalist in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir amid an escalating political crisis.
The Indian government on Monday had announced the revocation of a constitutional provision granting limited autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, and introduced measures that would change Kashmir’s administrative status from a state to a union territory, essentially putting it under federal control.
The communication blackout is related to the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure across Srinagar.
A large-scale communication disruption at such a crucial time for Kashmir is an egregious violation of citizens’ rights to information from a free press,” Aliya Iftikhar, senior researcher for CPJ’s Asia programme, said in a statement.
“We call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration to guarantee that all communication blocks in Kashmir are lifted and that journalists are able to report freely. Communication blocks have no place in a democracy,” Aliya added.
Watchdog calls upon BJP govt to allow journalists to work freely
An email sent to the Home Ministry of India, which is responsible for the administration of Jammu and Kashmir, was not immediately answered, according to CPJ.
In the past week, the Indian government sent in thousands of additional troops and evacuated tourists and closed schools, putting the region on edge.
On July 28, Qazi Shibli, a local journalist and editor of news website, The Kashmiriyat, was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir police, CPJ said, citing news portal The Kashmir Walla.
According to The Kashmir Walla, Shibli was held for questioning in relation to tweets that included the leaking of an official order regarding the deployment of additional troops in the region.
On Monday, CPJ contacted Shibli’s family, which expressed serious concern about his health as he suffers from kidney stones. They told CPJ that police had not specified charges against the journalist. The same day CPJ said it reached out via WhatsApp to Inspector General of Police Swayam Prakash Pani, who promised to look into the matter.
Due to the communication disruption, CPJ said it had been unable to contact Pani again or independently verify if Shibli was still under arrest. The Indian government has recently stepped up detentions and other measures against the press in Kashmir, CJP said. Kashmir Narrator reporter Aasif Sultan remained imprisoned since August 2016, after he wrote a cover story about the slain militant Burhan Wani.
Source :The Nation