India’s media bodies have spectacularly failed Kashmir’s media as they battle physical, professional, psychological and commercial challenges, following the blockade of land lines, mobile phones and the internet.
The owners’ body Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has been deathly silent, even while full editions of newspapers cannot be reported, printed or distributed. The Editors Guild of India has been content to issue a harmless, boiler-plate statement.
Now, the statutorily empowered Press Council of India, a body set up by an act of Parliament, has backed the Narendra Modi government’s decision to cut off oxygen to the media, by seeking to implead itself in a petition filed by Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin.
The website The Wire has a report on the confabulations, or the lack of it, in the Press Council before it decided to intervene in the Supreme Court, “in the interest of the integrity and sovereignty of the nation”.
The communications blackout in Kashmir, the 53rd this year, began on the night of August 4 and has gone till today, August 24.
In her petition on August 10, Bhasin had challenged the curbs on media freedom in the state and sought directions to immediately relax all restrictions on mobile, internet and landline services.
The petition also asked for a relaxation of all restrictions on the freedom of movement of journalists and media personnel in Kashmir and some districts of Jammu in order to enable them to practice their profession.