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IFJ report: Blaming The Messenger - Media under pressure in Jammu and Kashmir

(IFJ/IFEX) - 16 November 2010 - Since large-scale civil unrest began in the Kashmir valley – the largest of the three regions of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir – in June this year, the difficulties faced by journalists have rapidly escalated. Along with an easing in overall levels of violence, overt threats faced by journalists have probably declined since September 2010, but restraints on the media's daily functioning continue. Newspapers have been closed for an estimated total of 30 days since protests intensified in Kashmir in mid-June 2010, with local journalists confined to their homes and others assaulted.

Government advertising is allocated quite transparently to media that are compliant to the official diktat, while news gathering in Kashmir is impeded by restrictions on movement and disrupted communications. Text messaging (SMS) through the state's mobile telephone network was suspended in June, and television news broadcasts have been heavily restricted. Internet connectivity is frequently disrupted and those posting to social networking sites are subject to scrutiny and in some cases arrest.

To combat these threats, journalists in Kashmir have organised via their two main platforms – the Kashmir Press Guild and the Kashmir Press Association. Important gestures of solidarity have come from collectives in other parts of India, such as the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ). The Editors' Guild of India and the Press Club of India have also joined in the effort to ensure Kashmir's journalists a better deal in a time of unabated turmoil.

The following is a situation report on journalism in Kashmir based on a visit by IFJ South Asia staff to the region in the last week of October, undertaken as part of a fact-finding team involving other civil society organisations. This report will be used in part or whole, in the broader process coming out of this civil society initiative.

Click below to download "Blaming The Messenger":
IFJ_Blaming_The_Messenger.pdf (62 KB)

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