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Police ordered to single out journalists for particularly stringent enforcement of curfew, says IFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 26 August 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Deplores Attacks on Media in Kashmir

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by reports of the media being directly targeted in an intensifying security crackdown in the Kashmir region in India.

Newspapers in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, failed to print for two consecutive days on account of severe restrictions on the movement of journalists and other media employees. Security agencies have compelled local cable news channels to suspend broadcasts or to air only entertainment programs.

Fifteen journalists and media workers were reported injured on August 24 in targeted attacks by personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a paramilitary force controlled by the Indian Union Government and deployed in Srinagar since 2005.

The injured include journalists from India's two main news agencies, the Press Trust of India and the United News of India, who had been trying to go to their workplaces.

The IFJ's inquiries with journalists in Srinagar reveal that security forces are persistently disregarding media accreditation cards and curfew passes, in some instances snatching and destroying them. In some instances, armed CRPF personnel were reportedly heard remarking that they had orders to prevent journalists in particular from proceeding to their workplaces.

"The IFJ condemns the assaults on the press in Kashmir," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"The IFJ is gravely concerned that in an environment of complete paralysis for the media, rumour and disinformation will flourish, aggravating an already bad situation."

Three English language newspapers from Srinagar - Greater Kashmir, Etalaat and Rising Kashmir - posted notices on their websites regretting their failure to publish for two days because staff were unable to travel to their workplaces. The Urdu language press also has been paralysed.

News websites have been updated sporadically only because some employees have been confined to their offices by a curfew imposed in the entire Kashmir region.

"The IFJ calls upon the authorities and the security agencies in Kashmir to honour the well-established convention that media accreditation cards are considered good for passage through curfew-bound areas," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

The IFJ also demands that cable news channels in Kashmir be allowed to air their programs without hindrance, subject only to the condition that they conform to programming codes and guidelines in force in other parts of India.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries.

Updates the alert on media restrictions resulting from current curfew: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96651

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