IOK turning into news black hole: RSF

‘Press freedom situation worsening in India’

Paris, March 09 (KMS): The Paris-based media advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has said that occupied Kashmir is turning into a news black hole and cited the detention of Kamran Yousuf, a 23-year-old Kashmiri photojournalist for the past six months.

The RSF in a statement posted on its website said, “The persecution of Yousuf by the authorities – who say he is not a “real journalist” because he never covered developmental activity or the inauguration of [a] hospital or school building – clearly shows that they want to use him as an example to deter other Kashmiri reporters from covering the conflict.” It said the Indian authorities do their best to impose silence on the situation in occupied Kashmir by frequently disconnecting the Internet, banning foreign journalists and harassing Kashmiri reporters.

The RSF expressed concern over press freedom in India and urged the Indian prime minister to protect journalists and their work instead of disparaging them. The RSF statement came after the BJP’s latest election victory in the small northeastern state of Tripura, where two journalists were killed in the space of two months last autumn. It pointed out that it was getting hard for foreign journalists to get visas that allow them to report in India. The statement also described the Indian prime minister as hostile to media who prefers Twitter to press conferences.

“The press freedom situation is worsening on many fronts in India, with unpunished murders of journalists, arbitrary detention, obstruction of reporters, and hostility from the authorities towards their critics,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF Asia-Pacific desk. The statement said India is one of the world’s deadliest countries for reporters, with at least ten murdered in connection with their work since the start of 2015 – four of them in recent months.

“Acts of violence against journalists are on the rise but most of them go unpunished and the government is doing nothing to protect media persons,” the RSF said, giving examples of the murder of journalists including Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmick, Sudip Datta Bhaumik and Navin Gupta who were killed a few months ago. It said that the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has said nothing about this surge in violence against journalists although he is very active on Twitter and has been much criticized for being a subscriber to the account of a nationalist who welcomed Lankesh’s murder.

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