Authorities in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on February 9, 2013, ordered citizens to remain indoors and restricted mobile Internet service and cable television across several districts in the lead-up to a controversial execution of a militant from the region, according to news reports.
The government of Indian Kashmir has a long record of failing to respond to physical attacks on the press. This week, the possibility that websites like YouTube and Facebook were blocked indicated that online freedoms, too, are under threat.
Early this month, newspaper offices in Indian-controlled Kashmir received a note warning journalists to be more supportive of the Kashmir independence movement, according to the leading national daily, The Times of India, citing a news agency in the state's summer capital, Srinagar. No militants took responsibility this time, but in mid-March insurgent groups issued a joint message that urged journalists to "highlight the pain and suffering of Kashmiris because of oppressive state policies."
Retired Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju is shaking things up at the Press Council of India, where he was appointed chairman in October. The statutory body, mandated to look at media freedom and address complaints against the print media since 1966, has often been criticized for ineffectiveness, its role limited to admonishing news outlets.
New York, November 29, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for an investigation into the November 25 attack on four journalists reporting on a protest in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The latest issue of India's Tehelka weekly magazine carries some great reporting on press freedom issues, an effort supported by CPJ and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The article, by Pragya Tiwari, includes many examples of journalists being harassed and assaulted while reporting on clashes between security and separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. It begins with a veteran journalist who was beaten to unconsciousness while going through a security checkpoint--despite having all the right paperwork. But the author also outlines systemic problems that are eroding media freedom even on issues beyond the conflict.