Journalists in Kashmir hard-pressed due to restrictions on internet, mobile services

SRINAGAR, Sep 15: With no internet and mobile services in Kashmir for over 40 days now, journalists in the valley have been hard-pressed as a makeshift media centre set up here by the government continues to be the only connection for many with the rest of the world.
The restrictions were imposed across Kashmir on the evening of 4 August, a day before the Centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories.
Even though landline phones were restored early this month, mobile services and internet – on any platform – remain snapped. Harried journalists are now demanding that the government should at least restore broadband connections of media houses.
During the first few days after the restrictions were imposed, the journalists could not file any stories, except for the TV reports using the channels’ outdoor broadcast vans here.
In the absence of any medium to send the news-reports across the country or outside, some journalists would send their reports on pen drives through flyers at the airport.
The flyers would then contact the offices of the media houses which would collect the drives from them. Most media organisations, especially TV channels, sent journalists from Delhi to the valley as their reporters were incommunicado.
Around a week later, the state government’s IPR department set up a ‘media facilitation centre’ in the conference hall of a local hotel here.
Four computers and a lone cell phone were available to cater to hundreds of journalists, both local as well as from outside the state.
However, after frequent complaints by journalists, a few more computers were added to the centre and the network speed was also upgraded, bringing some relief.
The Kashmir Press Club (KPC) has expressed serious concern over the continuous communication blockade and demanded lifting of restrictions and restoration of press freedom.
Since the communication blockade, the club has taken up the issue with the government authorities on several occasions, urging them to restore mobile phones and internet to journalists and media outlets, including newspapers and also the club itself, the KPC said.
But all these efforts have proved to be futile as these services have not been restored to journalists till date, it said. (PTI)