Shuddhabrata Sengupta on Tue, 26 Aug 2008 18:02:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Statement on Censorship and Violence against Press in Kashmir: Reporters Without Borders

Dear all at Nettime,

Just to let you know a little more about how the world's largest
democracy is treating the media in Kashmir.



> Statement on Censorship and Violence against
> Press in Kashmir Reporters Without Borders
> 25 August 2008
> Reporters Without Borders calls on the Indian authorities to put
> an immediate stop to the censorship and violence against the media
> in Kashmir that has been prompted by a wave of protests against
> Indian rule. At least 13 journalists were beaten by police yesterday
> in Srinagar, local TV stations are being censored and a curfew is
> making it hard for newspapers to bring out their issues.
> "This latest crisis in Indian Kashmir must not be used as a pretext
> for subjecting the press to more violence and obstruction,"
> Reporters Without Borders said. "Journalists must have all the
> guarantees they need, including permanent passes, to be able to work
> freely despite the curfew. We also call on the police authorities
> to investigate the violence by certain elements that have led to
> injuries in the ranks of the press. If no sanctions are adopted, the
> door will be left open for more abuses. Finally, we call for an end
> to the censorship of local TV stations, which is a clear violation
> of the right of Kashmiris to be informed."
> At least 13 journalists were beaten by members of the Central
> Reserve Police Force in Srinagar as they tried to get to their
> offices yesterday despite the curfew introduced earlier in the
> day. The journalists had passes issued on 11 August but the police
> members said they were no long valid.
> The injured journalists included Bilal Bhat, the Sahara Samay TV
> station's bureau chief in Srinagar, who had several ribs broken,
> and his cameraman, Muzaffar. Ajaz Ahmad of News X, Jehangir Aziz of
> ETV's Urdu service and Amin War of The Tribune newspaper were also
> injured.
> The curfew prevented the publication of regional newspapers today,
> including the daily Greater Kashmir, which posted this message on
> its website: "Due to unavoidable circumstances, the print edition of
> Greater Kashmir will not be on the stands on 25 August. We regret
> the inconvenience to our readers. This was the first time in the
> past decade that GK staffers could not reach the office due to
> restrictions."
> An Indian newspaper's correspondent in Srinagar told Reporters
> Without Borders: "I had to go through 20 checkpoints to get to my
> office and each time I was subjected to the same humiliation and the
> same questions about my work as a journalist."
> The authorities yesterday asked local TV stations not to broadcast
> reports liable to "excite" the population until further order. TV
> executives and editors were summoned and told it would be preferable
> if they suspended news programmes and just broadcast entertainment.
> The government claimed that reports broadcast by certain stations
> violated the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995.
> It was on the basis of this law that a Srinagar judge yesterday
> finally ordered the TV stations to suppress their news programmes
> and just carry entertainment.
> Groups of journalists responded by staging street demonstrations
> against the violence and censorship. "Let the press work" said the
> placard brandished by one Srinagar reporter.
> Indian troops patrolling the streets of Srinagar and other cities in
> the region today used megaphones to call on the population to stay
> at home. Demonstrations planned by Kashmiri political parties have
> been banned. Several demonstrators were shot dead for violating the
> curfew.

Shuddhabrata Sengupta
The Sarai Programme at CSDS
Raqs Media Collective

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