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Communication blockade continues in Kashmir; scribes facing hostility, SC informed

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Sep. 4 : A senior journalist from Jammu and Kashmir told the Supreme Court Wednesday that “communication blockade” still prevails in the valley and scribes were facing “hostility and aggression” in seeking access for their work.

In an affidavit filed in the apex court, Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, said constant monitoring of news reports sent through a “makeshift media centre” in Srinagar, disregard for press cards and movement passes and deletion of photos and videos shot by scribes is “causing fear and anxiety” among them.

“This fear is generating a chilling effect on journalists who have to be very careful not to annoy the authorities and security forces with their reportage, even though the same constitutes honest and impartial reporting,” the affidavit said.

 

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is scheduled to hear the plea on Thursday.

Bhasin’s affidavit said that some journalists have been issued a movement pass, which is akin to curfew pass, but it does not ensure unrestricted access to all public places to enable them to perform their work.

“The movement of journalists is decided by security forces manning the check points, who often do not allow journalists holding a movement pass, to move from one area to the other,” it said.

“Unconstitutional fetters on the dual rights — of the press and media to report and the right to know of the people of Kashmir — cannot be sustained in law much less on the basis of mere conjecture, alarm, suspicions and surmises,” the affidavit said.

It further said that Editor-in-chief of Kashmir Times newspaper, Prabodh Jamwal, had travelled to Srinagar from Jammu on August 28 and returned on August 31 and he had informed Bhasin about the status of communication shutdown and information blackout in Kashmir.

“Movement of journalists, including photo and video journalists, in Srinagar continues to be restricted by security forces who man the check posts, barricades and concertina wires that are erected across the city,” it said.

“Journalists are not being allowed to enter certain parts of Srinagar, especially the downtown area which is considered as a sensitive locality. Despite having movement passes issued by the divisional commissioner, journalists are not allowed to enter downtown by the security forces,” it said.

It said that on being asked, the scribes are not given the reasons as to under what orders or law they were being denied entry.

“Many journalists have faced hostility and aggression while seeking access and are fearful of the security forces at the check point,” it said, adding that “the information blackhole around the rural areas and other districts of Kashmir thus continues.”

Sue to the restrictions, newspapers have reduced their publication from the usual 12-16 pages to 2-4 pages per edition, it said.

“Photo journalists and video-graphers have reported to being frequently hauled up by either the police or security forces and in several instances the photographs and videos shot by them have been forcefully deleted,” it said.

“Despite the assurances of normalcy given in many fora by senior government officials, a debilitating communication blockade continues as mobile and internet services remain shutdown across Kashmir valley for almost one month now,” it said.

The affidavit said the state authorities have set up a makeshift media centre in a private hotel in Sonwar, Srinagar but it has only four computers and one mobile phone without internet facility for the use of scribes.

“This media centre cannot in any manner be considered as satisfying the freedom of the press guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India nor does it provide an enabling environment to the press to function independently in Kashmir,” the affidavit said.

“With the communication and information blackout prevailing in Kashmir, journalists fear that if state authorities or security personnel were to target them for their honest reporting, then they will have no avenue to seek protection and justice,” it said.

The apex court had on August 28 asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to reply to Bhasin’s plea seeking directions for restoration of all modes of communication, including mobile internet and landline services, throughout the state in order to provide an enabling environment for the media to practise its profession.


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Pakistan exporting ‘terror’, stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains: India at UNSC

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UNITED NATIONS: India lashed out at Pakistan for raising the issue of women’s rights in Kashmir in the UN Security Council, saying the country represents a system that has been exporting militancy and “regressive” extremist ideologies and “stifling” women’s voices for narrow political gains.

India’s strong response came after Pakistan’s outgoing UN envoy Maleeha Lodhi commented on the situation in Kashmir, revocation of Article 370 and women’s rights in the Valley during the debate on October 29.

“As everyone today focuses on collective action, one delegation rhetorically regurgitates about women’s rights in my country,” First Secretary in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said Monday at a Security Council open debate on Women, Peace and Security.

 

Without naming Pakistan, Tripathi said the delegation “represents a system that has been exporting terrorism and regressive extremist ideologies, and stifling women’s voices for narrow political gains. This has devastated lives of generations of women and their families, in our region and beyond.”

Alluding to Islamabad’s habit of raking up the Kashmir issue at various UN forums and committees, Tripathi said the country habitually makes baseless allegations without any relevance to the agenda under consideration and this has “become a staple for this delegation.”

She referred to Lodhi’s comments on Jammu and Kashmir during the October 29 debate as well as during a previous debate on the “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”.

Asserting that India firmly rejects the baseless allegations, Tripathi said “the Council has not paid attention to such deceitful narratives in the past, and we are confident that the Council will continue to do so, to ensure that its agenda is not used as a ploy for furthering territorial ambitions.”

In her remarks to the debate, Tripathi underscored that violence against women and girls perpetrated by terrorists remain rampant and subjugation of women in public and in private spheres continue across situations that are on the agenda of the Council.

“It is important that the Council strives to effectively integrate women, peace and security considerations into sanctions regimes, including by listing terrorist entities involved in violence against women in armed conflicts,” she said.

Further, Tripathi highlighted the positive impacts of greater participation of women in UN peacekeeping but voiced concern that women make up only 4.2 per cent of military personnel in UN peacekeeping missions.

“We ought to encourage participation of all women units to achieve the set targets in this regard,” she said.

Tripathi pointed out that a trend in which in order to accommodate those who cannot fulfill the commitments of providing all women units to peacekeeping missions, mixed units are being given preference by diluting the policy frameworks.

“If this continues, we possibly cannot achieve the set targets,” she said as she added that India remains committed to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and has deployed a Female Engagement Team in UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) earlier this year.

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MeT predicts rains,snowfall from Nov 6 to 8 in J&K

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Nov 5 : The weather department on Tuesday predicted widespread moderate to heavy snowfall and rains in the hills and plains of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh union territories for three days starting from Wednesday.

The weather system is likely to cause temporary disruptions on surface transport especially over passes like Zojila, Srinagar-Jammu, Leh-Manali Highway, Mughal Road due to landslides, low temperature and heavy snowfall.

‘There is an active Western Disturbance. Its interaction with Cyclone MAHA (currently lying over East central Arabian sea) is most likely to cause widespread moderate to heavy snowfall and rain in plains of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh during 6th to 8th November’, Director, State Met department, Sonam Lotus said.

 

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan on Monday chaired a meeting of officers to review the position of winter stocks of food grains and other essential commodities in Ladakh and Kashmir division.

Besides, Deputy Commissioner Leh and officials of District Administration, Kargil attended the meeting through video conferencing.

Directing officials to ensure adequate stocks of commodities, the division commissioner said people in these areas should not face any difficulty during winter months.

The meeting was informed that all essential commodities for winter including food grains, fire wood, LPG, medicine and other items have been stocked

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EU MPs in Kashmir say Article 370 internal issue, stand by India in fight against ‘terror’

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Srinagar, October 30: Terming Article 370 an internal issue of India, EU parliamentarians visiting Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday said they stand by the country in its fight against global terrorism.

Addressing a press conference on the last day of their two-day visit to the Valley, the group of 23 members of European Parliament also condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal on Tuesday.

“If we talk about Article 370 it is India’s internal matter. What concerns us is terrorism which is a global menace and we should stand with India in fighting it. There was an unfortunate incident of killing of five innocent labourers. We condemn it,” said Henri Malosse from France.

 

He said the team got a briefing from the army and police as well as young activists and exchanged “ideas of peace”.

Newton Dunn from the UK described the visit, aimed at getting a first-hand assessment of the situation after the revocation of the state’s special status under Article 370, as an “eye-opener”.

“We belong to a place Europe which is peaceful after years of fighting. And we want to see India becoming the most peaceful country in the world. And for that we need to stand by India in its fight against global terrorism. This visit has been an eye opener and we would definitely advocate what we have seen on ground zero,” he told reporters.

The delegation is the first high-level foreign visit to Kashmir after the August 5 decision of the Centre to revoke the state’s special status and bifurcate it into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Wednesday is the last day of Jammu and Kashmir as a state.

According to MEP from Poland Ryszard Czarnecki, “The international media coverage seems biased”.

“Once we go back to our countries we will inform them of what we saw,” he said.

Thierry Mariani, also from France, told the media he had been to India many times and this visit was not to interfere in the internal matter of India but to get a first hand knowledge of the ground

situation in Kashmir.

“Militants can destroy a country. I have been to Afghanistan and Syria and I have seen what terrorism has done. We stand with India in its fight against terrorism,” he said.

“By calling us fascists, our image has been tarnished. It’s better that one should know about us properly before tarnishing our image,” he added, referring to some media reports.

The team originally comprised 27 parliamentarians, many from extreme right or right wing parties, but four did not travel to Kashmir and have reportedly returned to their respective countries,

officials said without divulging any reason.

The team arrived here on Tuesday to a complete shutdown, stone pelting and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley.

On Monday, the MPs met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.

While welcoming the MPs to India, he expressed “the hope that they have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including to Jammu and Kashmir”.

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