Journalists in Kashmir hardpressed due to restrictions on internet mobile services

first_imgSrinagar: With no internet and mobile services in Kashmir for over 40 days now, journalists in the Valley have been hard-pressed as a make-shift media centre set up here by the government continues to be the only connection for many with the rest of the world.The restrictions were imposed across Kashmir on the evening of August 4 a day before the Centre announced the abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Even though landline phones have been restored early this month, mobile services and internet – on any platform – remain snapped. Harried journalists are now demanding that the government should at least restore broadband connections of media houses. We have minimal contact with our head office. We are often outside our offices here for assignments or something else and it is difficult for the head office or even our family to reach us in the absence of mobile phone services, Irfan Ahmad, a senior photojournalist, said. Another local journalist, Mudasir, who works for a daily newspaper, said information gathering has suffered due to the communication restrictions. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KWe often do not know what is happening in the city and information from other districts is hard to come by. We have to rely on official versions of the events or incidents. Reaching officials or sources especially in the other districts is very difficult, he said. During the first few days after the restrictions were imposed, the journalists could not file any stories except for the TV reports using the channels’ outdoor broadcast vans here. In the absence of any medium to send the news-reports across the country or outside, some journalists would send their reports on pen drives through flyers at the airport. The flyers would then contact the offices of the media houses which would collect the drives from him. Most media organisations, especially TV channels, sent journalists from Delhi to the Valley as their reporters were incommunicado. Around a week later, the state government’s Department of Information and Public Relations set up a ‘Media Facilitation Centre’ at a conference hall of a local hotel here. Four computers and a lone cell phone were available to cater to hundreds of journalists both local as well as from outside the state. “One often had to wait for more than half-an-hour to get a (computer) system. Then the speed was so irritating that the email would take ages to open, Firdous Ahmad, a local journalist, told PTI. Journalists have to register themselves before making a call from the cell phone and more often than not, the waiting period would stretch for hours because of the rush. We have to write down our names on a register before making a call and then wait for our turn, Ahmad said. PTIlast_img

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