Committee to Protect Journalists Urges India to Uphold Press Freedom in Kashmir

Journalist Irfan Amin Malik was detained late on Wednesday and released on Saturday. Photo: Facebook

New Delhi: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a statement asking the Indian government to stop its “harassment” of journalists working in Jammu and Kashmir. According to the international journalists’ body, at least two reporters had been detained during recents tensions in the Kashmir Valley, after the Centre decided to revoke the state’s special status and bifurcate it into two union territories.

The statement named Greater Kashmir reporter Irfan Malik and Brut India correspondent Haziq Qadri as the two who were detained.

“Severing all communications links is already an astounding violation of press freedom. Detaining journalists as Kashmir approaches nearly two weeks of this blackout is one more form of intimidation and obstruction of the media,” CPJ’s senior Asia research associate Aliya Iftikhar, in New York, was quoted as saying. “India should respect its constitution and democracy, and uphold the essential value of press freedom in Kashmir and elsewhere.”

As The Wire has reported before, Malik was picked up last Wednesday at around 11 pm. His family did not know what the charges against him were. He was released on Saturday.

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While the CPJ also mentions Qadri’s detention, it has not been mentioned in media reports. Qadri has written for The Wire in the past.

Activists and human rights defenders from across the world have questioned the Indian government’s decision to put in place a communications blackout and not allow voices from the state to be heard while major decisions are made. Scores of political leaders from mainstream political parties, including two former chief ministers, have also been detained in Kashmir.

While restrictions on movement were relaxed in a few parts of Kashmir on Saturday, they were reintroduced on Sunday after clashes between security forces and protestors. The same thing happened with internet connectivity in Jammu – it was brought back on Saturday, only to be cut off again on Sunday.