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IJU Condemns Blocking of ‘The Kashmir Walla’, Social Media Accounts

New Delhi : The Indian Journalists Union condemns in the strongest of terms the blocking of website ‘The Kashmir Walla’, its Facebook and Twitter accounts by the Ministry of Electronics and Information & Technology under the IT Act, 2000 since Saturday last. The action is not only yet another reprisal attack on press freedom but belies the Government’s claim of normalcy returning to the Valley. The IJU demands the news website and its social media accounts be unblocked immediately.

A statement issued by the portal said not only was the news website blocked on 19th August, but its Facebook and Twitter account with ‘nearly half a million followers’ removed. Worse, its office in Srinagar has been served with an eviction notice by the landlord and it’s in the process of vacating the premises. The news site has been in existence since over past 12 years and has “undergone a horrifying nightmare since past 18 months amid an already inhospitable climate for journalism in the region.”

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The statement added: “We have not been served any notice nor is there any official order regarding these actions that is in the public domain so far…This opaque censorship is gut-wrenching. There isn’t a lot left for us to say anymore. Since 2011, The Kashmir Walla has strived to remain an independent, credible, and courageous voice of the region in the face of unimaginable pressure from authorities while we watched our being ripped apart, bit by bit.”

The IJU President and former Member of Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General, IFJ Vice President and FAPaJ President Sabina Inderjit said the Union has been following the harassment of journalists in the Valley and had condemned the arrest of Fahad Shah in February 2022 wherein ‘he went on to be arrested five times within four months. Three FIRs under the stringent UAPA and one Public Safety Act have been registered against him.’ He has been imprisoned in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail and a trainee reporter Sajad Gul is in prison in Uttar Pradesh under the Public Safety Act.

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Condemning the undeclared censorship by the authorities, the IJU said it was not only an attack on independent media in the Valley but was denying the citizens their right to information to make a well-informed decision, a cornerstone of any democratic society. The union added the Centre’s claim that there’s return of normalcy in the UT if not enough—its words must match actions and the harassment of journalists, and the media must end forthwith.

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