Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that press freedom in Kashmir remains under attack while India holds a G-20 summit in Srinagar. In a statement, “CPJ calls on the Indian government to end its brutal crackdown on the media and immediately release the four arbitrarily detained Kashmiri journalists”.
It said, “CPJ has also documented foreign travel bans on Kashmiri journalists, indicating efforts by the Indian government to chill reporting on rights abuses and repression in the region.” The statement added, “Government raids on news outlets and journalists’ homes are also commonplace in Kashmir.
In November 2022, police raided the homes of at least seven Kashmiri journalists, one of whom told CPJ he believed he was targeted for his critical reporting.” Pertinently, four journalists from Kashmir Fahad Shah, Asif Sultan, Sajad Gul, and Irfan Mehraj are currently facing detention under various sections of the law. Since India revoked its special status in 2019, press freedom has deteriorated significantly, and journalists in IIOJK are continuously facing intimidation and fear. Indian govt has introduced the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) and using these acts to silence critical journalists. India at present stands 150 out of 180 in the international press freedom ranking. IIOJK is one of the most dangerous places in the world where people associated with the press and media are performing their professional duties in the most difficult circumstances. According to the latest report by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, India’s ranking in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index has slipped to 161 out of 180 countries.
Since 1989, twenty journalists have been confirmed killed while performing their duties during the Kashmiris’ ongoing liberation struggle. Journalists face manhandling, abductions, murder attempts, harassment, detentions, summoning to police stations,s and death threats by Indian Army, police, and other agencies. In a statement, Amnesty International India said that the arrest of Kashmiri journalist Irfan Meraaj under black law was yet another instance of the long-drawn repression of human rights and the crackdown on media freedoms and civil society in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. Aakar Patel, chair of the board at Amnesty International India said, “Indian authorities should prioritize ending impunity for the human rights violations that human rights defenders and journalists have bravely documented and exposed, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, and ensure that human rights defenders and activists can work in a safe and enabling environment without any fear of reprisals.”