Internet gag killed journalism in Valley: Tarigami

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2020

Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami. File photo   -  The Hindu

Internet gag has crippled journalists in Kashmir, said former MLA in the State Assembly and senior CPI(M) leader Mohd Yusuf Tarigami.  He said in a statement here on Friday that the Internet shutdown in Kashmir for the last six months has virtually stopped free flow of information.

He added that 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". The senior leader said hundreds of Valley based journalists have had to stand in queues at the 'Media Facilitation Centre' – set up by the government in Srinagar – and rely on a dozen computers with Internet access to file their stories and communicate with their editors.

"Internet facilities remain inadequate for hundreds of journalists and district reporters who can’t make it to the centre every day. This has virtually made them dependent on the state, and submission to government-regulated conditions makes a mockery of freedom of the press," Tarigami said. 

The veteran leader, who was on house arrest till recently, said the Internet gag has created an information black hole in Kashmir and local press bore the brunt of the blockade. |It's functioning has been crippled and its coverage of how the clampdown affected people’s lives has been severely curtailed or suppressed. There has been little or no coverage of how people suffered in the months after the communication blockade and clampdown was imposed. There were no reports on the effects of the communication shutdown on everyday lives of people, arrests, crippling of healthcare and other emergency services," he said.  The four-time MLA said what was not covered in the local press said a lot about the curtailment of the freedom of the press. He said the blockade is a violation of the Constitution of India.

"Internet is just not limited to the right to speech and expression, but several other fundamental rights such as access to healthcare and statutory welfare schemes to which a person is legally entitled," he said.

Published on January 24, 2020

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