As the Internet shutdown in Kashmir continues, entering its 157th day, valley-based journalists said the ban is, in fact, on the newspapers.
Kashmiri journalists on Monday organised a seminar titled 'Cyber Curfew' where they spoke about the hardships being faced by the media in absence of the Internet.
“I can tell you what is happening in New York, but I don’t know what is happening in Sopore,” Bashir Manzar, editor of an English daily, Kashmir Images, said. Sopore is a town located in Baramulla district, nearly 50km from Srinagar.
Manzar said his reporters, who are based in different districts of the valley, are unable to file stories due to the Internet shutdown.
Haroon Rashid Shah, the editor of Urdu daily Nida-i-Mashriq, said the Internet ban has directly affected journalism and newspapers in Kashmir. “Internet ban is the ban on newspapers,” Shah said.
After August 5, when the central government revoked the provisions of Article 370 and imposed a strict communication blockade, Kashmir-based reporters used the lone media facilitation centre to file stories where they had to wait for their turn to access the Internet.
However, most of the local newspaper didn’t report about happenings in Kashmir region and avoided writing editorials and columns.
Another senior journalist, Peerzada Ashiq said the Internet was a major communication tool for journalists to gain access to information, for research and to file their stories.
Ashiq drew the parallels between the curbs faced by Kashmir media with that of Stalin’s Russia and General Zia’s Pakistan.
He termed the situation in Kashmir post-August 5 "unprecedented and extraordinary".
Journalist Majid Hyderi said that Kashmir Press Club should approach J&K High Court for the restoration of the Internet for the Kashmir media fraternity. He also said that the journalists' body should make a representation to the Lieutenant Governor Murmu.