Communications have been cut off in J&K

Guwahati: In a bid to restore normalcy for the media’s communication links in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Saturday wrote to the Centre to ensure safety and freedom of movement to journalists amidst the “draconian” clampdown in the region.

“It is deeply concerned over the continued shutdown in communication links with the Kashmir Valley and the consequent curtailment of the media’s freedom and ability to report fairly and accurately on current developments,” said EGI, a premier, non-partisan association of editorial leaders in India committed to free, fair and independent journalism.

“While some visiting journalists may be able to file their reports once they are out of the Valley, the lock-down is almost total and draconian for the vibrant local media that are the first eyes and ears on the ground. The government knows very well that it is impossible to process and publish news now without the internet,” it further said.

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EGI reminded the government that “it owes it to the people of India, including all in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, to allow the press, a vital institution of democracy, to function freely”.

The role of unhindered and free media in situations such as J&K is critically important in helping dissemination of news. It is the democratic duty of media to keep a watch on institutions of government and security, the EGI reiterated.

“The guild underlines the imprudence in creating an unfair distinction in the treatment: for access, curfew passes, communication between local journalists and those coming in to report from outside. All journalists and all Indian citizens are entitled to equal freedoms,” added the statement.

“Media transparency has and always should be India’s strength, not fear,” EGI said, adding: “The guild requests all, especially the government, to ensure their safety and freedom of movement.”

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