Washington, August 6: A US-based media watchdog has urged India to ensure access to internet and communications services in Kashmir, which were suspended in the Valley as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. Kashmir remained on the edge as authorities stepped up security at vital installations and in sensitive areas, suspended mobile Internet services and either "arrested" or "detained" several leaders in fast-paced developments on Sunday night.
The Committee to Protect Journalists in a statement expressed alarm over communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government on Monday revoked Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Rajya Sabha approved the resolution abrogating Article 370 and a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, with Home Minister Amit Shah saying the controversial provisions were responsible for poverty and lack of development in the state. Jammu and Kashmir Loses Privileges Under Article 370, Article 35A: What Does it Mean For Kashmiris and Other Indians?
"A large-scale communication disruption at such a crucial time for Kashmir is an egregious violation of citizens' rights to information from a free press," said Aliya Iftikhar, senior researcher for CPJ's Asia programme.
The telecommunication blackout is related to the imposition of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on Monday across Srinagar, which prohibits an assembly of more than four persons in an area. "We call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration to guarantee that all communication blocks in Kashmir are lifted and that journalists are able to report freely. Communication blocks have no place in a democracy," Iftikhar said.