Communication blockade makes life miserable for scribes

An Indian police officer stands behind the concertina wire during restrictions on Eid-al-Adha after the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar, August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

As lockdown and information blockade continues in Kashmir, inside a big hall of a posh hotel in Snowar area of Srinagar, journalists try to get access to limited internet connectivity to send reports and pictures about the happenings in the Valley to their respective organisations.

It is the information centre set up by the state information department having three computers with 2G internet connectivity and a single phone line. The Center was set-up on August 12 to facilitate journos to send their stories as, most of whom could not send even a single story from August, the day security clampdown was imposed in the Valley.

A few hundred local and well as non-local journalists throng to the Center every day and wait for their turn at the three terminals.

“Actually they (government) have made it difficult rather impossible for us to work. Never ever in my 35-years of journalistic career have I seen such type of communication blockade,” Yousuf Jameel, a veteran and respected journalist from Kashmir, told DH.

“This communication blockade has made life miserable for all the scribes. Even during the Kargil war and peak of militancy, no such curbs were in place,” he added.

Manzoor-ul-Hassan a young reporter said it is frustrating “as I am not able to access my mail for the last half an hour due to low internet speed.”

“Everybody else who is waiting for his turn is gazing at me. It is a helpless situation,” he said.

A senior official of information department said they were paying nearly Rs 50 thousand as rent for the hall after they were directed to give limited internet access to journalists. 

“I think in a day or two, this place will be shut as we have to pay huge rent. We wanted to establish this Center at our office, but there were have orders from higher-ups that it should be setup at this particular place,” he told DH on the condition of anonymity.

A senior police officer said that communication blockade would continue in Kashmir for some more time. “We have to obey orders from Delhi. As and when we get clearance, landline phones will be made functional,” he said.

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