As Kashmir Faces Longest Internet Ban In The World, Journalists Appeal To Govt

On 5th August 2019, the BJP government announced  Abrogation of article 370 and article 35 A, that changed the status of Jammu & Kashmir, by changing its stature to a Union territory. Ladakh was declared a separate Union Territory too.

The journalism fraternity of Kashmir finally has come forward to request the authorities to lift this prolonged ban on internet services, and collectively held an interactive session ‘cyber curfew’.

It was claimed that this move would potentially reduce cross border terrorism. The aftermath was cruelly interesting. The entire nation; to be precise, those who do not belong to J & K, and those, on whom, this law had no bearing, rejoiced. The reasons were as weird as occupying land, and being able to marry Kashmiri women!

PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah earned so much praise; possibly more than any national leaders in recent times. But, nobody gave a thought to what must have happened to those who were actually impacted by the government’s announcement.

Overnight, they were put in a state of emergency, through the deployment of armed forces and cutting down of all possible media communication. Family members and friends of Kashmiris, who have been living in different parts of the country, became anxious, as they were completely disconnected from their loved ones.

Shops, schools offices, hospitals everything remained closed. The situation of complete lockdown has been absolutely terrible and is considered the longest ever internet ban in any democracy. The authorities, however, indicated that the extended ban was put in place to avoid disruptions of any kind, including activity by militant groups.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in an interview, asked, “How do I cut off communications between the terrorists and their masters on the one hand but keep the Internet open for other people?”.

It has been 156 days and counting. Things are still on shut down. From nominal bank transactions to other online processes, everything has been disrupted.

Journalists Appeal To Govt To Restore Internet

The journalism fraternity of Kashmir finally has come forward to request the authorities to lift this prolonged ban on internet services, and collectively held an interactive session ‘cyber curfew’.

Several Kashmiri journalists, editors, and photojournalists shared challenges they faced while working without internet, over the past five months. This was followed by a peaceful sit-in protest, inside the press club premises. During the protests, members of different media organisations and representing leading journalist bodies of the Valley, urged the authorities to restore internet services, so that they can properly discharge their professional duties.

One of the journalists, Shafat Farooq, who participated in the protest, complained that many media houses have accepted the government’s restrictions, and as a result, several journalists had either lost their jobs or suffered salary cuts.

Another journalist, Shahnawaz Khan, stated “When asked to bend, Kashmir’s press didn’t even crawl; it went down on its knees. We could have simply closed down the newspapers,”. “Collectively we have failed and even if the internet is restored now, what difference will the Kashmir press make now?”

Further to that, journalist and editor of Kashmir Images Bashir Manzar said, “We aren’t able to communicate with our sources and freely gather information. We demand the internet be restored.”

One can only hope that the government will immediately respond to this request so that everything could be settled on time and people can get over all the inconvenience that they have faced so far.

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below