Srinagar: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) along with South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) has launched a campaign to bring to light the severe impact on journalists of the ban on high-speed mobile internet (4G) in J&K and has urged the government of India to lift the restrictions.
“The world needs to know the severe impact on the lives of civilians and journalists as a result of this shutdown. We need solidarity and collective action to end this violation of human rights and journalist rights immediately,” said IFJ and SAMSN in a joint statement.
The campaign, “POSTCARDS FROM KASHMIR”, started from April 4. It highlights the “critical need for high-speed communications during the COVID-19 pandemic” even as journalists the world over are switching to online mode in a bid to break the transmission chain of he deadly disease.
The campaign carries stories of journalists from Kashmir reflecting how journalists bore the brunt of the communication shutdown imposed on the eve of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5. The internet shutdown for more than six months by the government of India is the longest ever in a democracy. While some communications have been gradually restored, the block on high speed mobile 4G internet in Kashmir remains. On April 3, this ban was again extended to April 15.
“Even before some communications were restored, the blackout was already the world’s longest communication shutdown in a democracy. India continues to lead the world in the number of shutdowns enforced on its people. From April 4-7, this campaign will shine a light on the world’s longest and most severe communications shutdown on media and citizens,” the IFJ and SAMSN said in their statement.
The SAMSN-IFJ campaign has asked the government of India to “cease the communication controls that are continuing to limit the capabilities of journalists reporting in Kashmir, specifically the blocking of 4G mobile internet”.
The IFJ said the campaign “will draw the world’s attention to the personal stories of journalists impacted by shutdowns and raise awareness on internet controls as an abuse of human rights”. “The IFJ urges the Indian government immediately restore all communications to the Kashmir Valley and ensure that all access is open and without restriction,” said the IFJ.