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11 Feb 2013

PUDR strongly condemns the imposition of curfew accompanied by blanket gag on all media, including television, print and online, in the Kashmir valley following the secretive hanging of Afzal Guru. 

Since Saturday morning Kashmir valley has been placed under a preemptive curfew forcing people to stay locked inside their houses. Satellite and cable tv, internet and even mobile sms have been blacked out in the valley. On Saturday night, the police also stopped the publication and distribution of all newspapers. The authorities did not allow copy to reach the press. Police teams visited various printing presses of daily newspapers and asked the management to stop publishing. The dailies that managed to slip through this net and publish their editions had all the copies seized. With the internet services withdrawn, online editions too couldn’t get updated on time.

So far, three people have been killed and more than fifty injured in the Valley due to police action on popular protests.

This is all being done to silence the protests against the cold-blooded judicial killing of Guru and to keep the people in the dark about dissenting voices and popular opinion in Kashmir.  Evidently, putting the entire population of the Valley under house-arrest and this blatant violation of the right to free speech, expression and assembly doesn’t prick the conscience of the self-styled keepers of the ‘collective conscience’ of the country.

One is also struck by the double standards of the J&K state government. On the one hand chief minister Omar Abdullah is speaking out against the hanging of Afzal Guru, on the other hand his administration is systematically blacking out information and curbing the basic and inalienable democratic rights of the Kashmiri people.  

Gagging of the media is nothing new in Kashmir, and by and large it goes unreported in Indian media. In fact, India’s media watchdogs have acquired notoriety in consistently acquiescing in the throttling of freedom of expression and assembly through their silence, where Kashmir is concerned. PUDR sincerely hopes that the Indian mainstream media and its apex bodies like the Press Council of India, Editors Guild and the Indian Broadcasters Association will discover courage to speak out against this outrageous attack on the freedom of the press and the systematic throttling of democratic rights of the people of Kashmir. 

Asish Gupta and D Manjit


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