Srinagar: The lockdown in Kashmir is not over yet. This time, it is the turn of digital journalists to endure the worst of the government’s whims and fancies, at the cost of jeopardising their work.
Aakash Hassan, a journalist who works as a correspondent for Kashmir for the news outlet CNN-News18, had been allegedly barred from accessing the media facilitation centre in Srinagar, earlier in the afternoon on November 11. It is said that officials of the Department of Information and Public relations, J&K denies access only to those journalists who work as freelancers or report for websites or weekly/monthly magazines.
I have been barred from the Media facilitation centre–the only place for journalists to access the internet at in #Kashmir. The officials of @diprjk told me that journalists working as freelancers or reporting for websites or monthly magazines are not allowed inside.
— Aakash Hassan (@Aakashhassan) November 11, 2019
Another journalist, Quaratulain Rehbar, took to Twitter about the same issue. “Senior journalist, reporter, freelance reporter in Kashmir has different connotations for the officials in terms of respect and freedom of speech. Now, you cannot access internet if you don’t have an identity card.”
Senior Journalist, reporter, freelance reporter in Kashmir has different connotations for the officials in terms of respect and freedom of speech.
Now, you cannot access internet if you don’t have an identity card 1/2 #Kashmir
— Quratulain Rehbar (@ainulrhbr) November 11, 2019
The media facilitation centre is the only place for journalists to access the internet in Kashmir. However, whatever internet is allowed is only for a meagre amount of time. After logging in with their credentials, reporters are allowed to use only 15 minutes on the computer. Despite the journalist community’s repeated requests, the government has denied them internet access in their offices.
Reportedly, this is the second consecutive day for which journalists and reporters were declined access to the government’s internet facility. Several reporters allege that only journalists with 25 years of experience are allowed access, while others say that the centre is meant only for print journalists. There is less clarity as to why this ban took place.
Many journalists had protested against the arbitrary ban against digital journalists, following which they have been permitted to use the facility, close to an hour back. However, reporters say that it has become such a humiliating experience to “beg” for internet facilities to carry on their work.
It is humiliating to literally beg for a few minutes of internet connectivity for ur cell-phones at govt run ‘media facilitation centre’ in #Srinagar. It has been 95 days since #Kashmir is without internet. End the blackout and let us breathe.
— Shams Irfan (@ShamsIrfan27) November 6, 2019