Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times, addressing a seminar on ‘Media Freedom for Kashmir’ organised in Thrissur on Tuesday by the Kerala Media Academy in association with the KUWJ.Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times, addressing a seminar on ‘Media Freedom for Kashmir’ organised in Thrissur on Tuesday by the Kerala Media Academy in association with the KUWJ.

Internet and cellphones restricted, says Kashmir Times executive editor

As all means of communications have been restricted, the media in Kashmir are struggling for survival like a patient on ventilator, Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, has said.

She was addressing a seminar, ‘Media Freedom for Kashmir’, organised here on Tuesday by the Kerala Media Academy in association with the Kerala Union for Working Journalists in connection with the KUWJ State conference.

“Mediapersons in Kashmir have to negotiate with silence as communications systems including the Internet and cellphones have been restricted. There are restrictions for travelling too,” she noted.

Strict monitoring

The only system for communication is a facilitation centre run by authorities with six or seven computers with very slow Internet connectivity. Around 100 journalists have to use them under strict monitoring by the authorities.

Though there is no official ban on media, many journalists in Kashmir are under house arrest. Newspapers are coming up without editorials. Many of them have stopped printing. Some are publishing as pamphlets. Mediapersons are going for daily wage work for survival. Media in Kashmir are helplessly surrendering to the authoritarian regime, Ms. Bhasin said.

“Indian democracy is in Emergency. Three pillars of democracy have been weakened. And the media, the fourth pillar, has been tamed and controlled. Democracy has been replaced by authoritarian government. They are intolerant to criticism.”

Harassment

Mediapersons have been subjected to various kinds of harassment in the country like threatening, physical attack, criminal cases and expulsion, she said. Indian has dropped to 140th position in the list of freedom of press, she noted.

Earlier, inaugurating the seminar, Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunil Kumar alleged that the mainstream media in the country have been keeping criminal silence while the freedom of media is under threat.

Kerala Media Academy chairman R.S. Babu presided. Deshabhimani Chief Editor P. Rajeev was the moderator.

Frontline senior associate editor Venkitesh Ramakrishnan led the discussion. KUWJ State secretary C. Narayanan also spoke on the occasion.