Indian State Tightens Blockade of Kashmir as Media & Press Are Gagged by Police Forces
Reports of repression continue as two of Kashmir’s biggest newspapers, the Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Uzma (an Urdu publication) were shut down from publication by the Indian government in midnight raids on the printing presses. Employees were beaten and printing equipment confiscated in an effort to curb all communication from inside and outside of Kashmir. The telecommunications blockade continued with cell phone services, mobile connectivity and television access being restricted across the region. A government spokesperson related that the efforts were aimed at subverting peace and also announced plans to restrict the movement of media staff and distribution of newspapers till three days. With over 40 Kashmiris killed and over 2,000 injured following protests erupting after the state killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the state media in Delhi has full freedom to control the narrative on the Kashmir issue with the local press gagged. Media and press owners accused the Indian State of imposing a blackout on the local media, the only source of information and news in the valley with all other avenues of communication barred, so as to give free reign to its propaganda.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, popular actor-cum-social media activist Hamza Ali Abbasi’s account was temporarily blocked and his post questioning the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani removed by Facebook. “Look at this man. He is not an ISI agent, he is not a Mullah inspired Pakistani funded militant. He is Burhan Wani Shaheed. A KASHMIRI who joined the freedom struggle of Kashmir when his brother was killed by Indian Army. If KASHMIR issue is not resolved according to the will of Kashmiris and UN Resolutions, we have another PALESTINE in the making right in our backyard. #IAmBurhanWani #BurhanWaniShaheed #Kashmir,” the post had said before its deletion by the social media organization. The move follows an official commitment by Facebook to cleanse the world’s largest social network of terrorist content and militancy after pressure from world governments, particularly the United States and Israel. Mark Zuckerberg later posted online that the blocking might have been a mistake on part of Facebook’s team. Pakistanis have been pushing for tougher actions by the state on the repression by the Indian State, with the government officially announcing a national Black Day on July 20, 2016 to express solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir. The Human Rights Watch has also criticised the way India is dealing with this certain issue. They have called on India to exercise control and investigate the use of lethal force.
(Summary by Rohama Riaz and Ashtar Haideri)