SRINAGAR: Kashmir on Tuesday marked 100 days since India stripped the occupied valley of its autonomy and imposed a strict communications blackout, with local journalists protesting the internet ban.
Tensions have been high since August 5 when the Indian government moved to bring the restive Himalayan region under direct rule, cut telecommunications and detained thousands to quell any unrest.
Shops and businesses have remained shut to protest against the controversial decision, and children have not been going to school. Dozens of journalists held a silent demonstration against the internet blackout, holding their laptops with blank screens or placards with the words “100 days no internet” and “stop humiliating Kashmir journalists”.
“The authorities have treated journalists too as potential troublemakers and choked journalism in the process,” a freelance journalist regretted.
“Internet is so fundamental to journalism in this day and age. The authorities have choked our practices instead of enabling free press here,” said another journalist.
Authorities have justified the ban as necessary to ‘‘stop fighters from neighbouring Pakistan from using internet to fan radicalisation’’ in held Kashmir. They instead set up an office with 10 internet-enabled stations for around 200 working journalists, who queue up to use the computers for 15 minutes each.
The protest came as reports said three fighters died in two separate gun battles with government forces this week.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2019