Report by NWMI, Free Speech Collective reveals massive media communication blockade in Kashmir

A two-member team consisting of Laxmi Murthy and Geeta Seshu from the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) and Free Speech Collective (FSC) visited the Kashmir valley to determine the impacts of clampdown of media communications

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After the removal of Article 370 on August 5 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, there have been reports in international media alleging media crackdown in Kashmir valley. 

Between August 30 and September 3, a two-member team consisting of Laxmi Murthy and Geeta Seshu from the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) and Free Speech Collective (FSC) visited the Kashmir valley to determine the impacts of clampdown of media communications. 

In their five-day visit to Srinagar and South Kashmir, the two-member team spoke to nearly 70 journalists including correspondents and editors of newspapers and news web portals along with citizens and members of the local administration. 

NWMI and FSC member stated that the government of India has taken political, legislative, militaristic and punitive measures in the ongoing conflict in Kashmir. 

In this huge blockade in Kashmir, the two-member team portrays a “despairing picture of media” in one of the most militarised zones in the world while stating that the media persons working in the shadow of security forces.

In its report, the team observed a high degree of surveillance, informal ‘investigations’ and even arrest of journalists who publish reports considered adverse to the government or security forces; controls on the facilities available for print publication; government advertising to select publications; restrictions on mobility in select areas including hospitals and the most crippling communications shutdown of all time. Significantly, there is no official curfew, no official notification for the shutdown.”

The team observed that the ban on communication including internet in Kashmir has caused an inhuman problem for the citizens. With journalists in the valley not being able to report from the ground, the government’s control of the narrative of normalcy has taken over.

However, there has been an “invisibilisation” of voice from Kashmir expressing alienation, anger and disillusionment at the perceived breach of trust, the team narrated saying that the media communications blockade “bodes ill for freedom of expression and media freedom”.


The team has suggested the government to undertake the following measure to maintain a commitment to freedom of expression:

  • Immediately lift the internet shutdown and enable high-speed internet connectivity.
  • Restore all landlines and mobile telephones with priority to journalists and media houses.
  • Lift restriction on movement to journalists to enable on-the-ground reporting and verification of authentic news.
  • Desist from monitoring and surveillance of journalists and immediately cease intimidatory tactics such as summons to police stations, the threat of arrest and detention, and the lodging of false cases etc.
  • Create a level playing field for all local, national and international media so as to ensure equal access to official sources and information.
  • Set up a transparent and accountable mechanism for disbursal of government advertising.
  • Ensure an enabling environment for the safety and dignity of working journalists, a robust and viable media that can guarantee just wages and other protections for working journalists, thus enabling the full exercise of the right to Freedom of Expression.
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