‘New Delhi’s Criminal Irresponsibility’: RSF On High Speed Internet Ban

Srinagar: Terming the continued restrictions on communications as ‘potentially criminal irresponsibility’ of New Delhi during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Friday called upon India to immediately restore high speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a statement released to media, Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said that 8 million Kashmiris continue to be cut off from the absolutely vital information that is needed to prevent the spread of the pandemic, when people under lockdown all over the world are using the internet to work, communicate and get information.

“As this demonstrates potentially criminal irresponsibility, New Delhi must immediately restore high speed Internet in the Kashmir Valley,” Bastard said.

“Imagine a population under a coronavirus lockdown that cannot communicate by Internet. This is the cruel reality to which the citizens of the Kashmir Valley, including its journalists, are currently being subjected,” he added.

Quoting several journalists from J&K, The RSF statement said that the media persons were at high risk from the pandemic as they continue to work in their offices or at the government-run media facilitation centre. The journalists have also expressed their inability to fulfill their crucial role of spreading public health information.

“When the entire world is under a lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and health professionals recommend watching awareness videos and films at home, the J&K government has announced yet another order restricting the Internet in Kashmir. The authorities are writing one of the darkest chapters in history” author and political commentator Gowhar Geelani told RSF.

“Communication in times of any crisis is absolutely fundamental,” freelancer Arif Shafi Wani told RSF.

The RSF statement further says that in addition to these major curbs on communications, the security forces “obstruct Kashmiri journalists when they are out in the field, subjecting them to intimidation, seizing their phones and violating the confidentiality of their sources”, as reported at the start of March.

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