The horrors of the Indian Hindutva regime in occupied Jammu and Kashmir have raged on since the revoking of Article 370, which had given Kashmir special status. The extent of the absolute brutality displayed has been sickening, and the far-right government of India has largely covered up the attempted hate campaign. The attempts to cover up the religious cleansing and brutality perpetrated by the Indian Army have meant putting a blockade on information escaping to the outside World. It is becoming hard for journalists or human rights groups to enter the region, and journalists are being arrested or barred from travelling for speaking about what they see there. Journalists who have been barred from flying include independent journalist Aakash Hassan, 25, who was barred from flying to Sri Lanka, Sanna Irshad Mattoo, photojournalist, barred from flying to Paris, Rana Ayyub, a prominent journalist, barred from flying to London, and other journalists such as Zahid Rafiq and Ruwa Shah. NGO heads such as Aakar Patel have been banned from flying, whilst international human rights NGOs are being taken to court on criminal charges and intimidated.
However, there are even worse cases, Kashmir’s independent Press Club, has been raided and taken over by the Indian government. They have imported pro-regime journalists to start giving false narratives of what is happening in Kashmir and covering up the crimes. Journalist Sajad Gul, with the Kashmir Walla news site, has been arrested for exposing a case where the Indian Army shot civilians on camera and released the footage with false claims that the victims were militants. Kashmir Wallas editor Fahad Shah is also imprisoned, having been arrested three times previously within 40 days. Other journalists arrested include Aasif Sultan of the Kashmir Narrator. Cases such as these have almost destroyed any independent journalism in Kashmir, made it impossible for any narrative other than that of the Indian regime to be heard outside of Kashmir, and gives the government the ability to act with almost complete impunity.
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Re. The coverup of information coming from Kashmir
Dear Miss Azoulay
I am deeply concerned about the situation in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. Many of the atrocities that have occurred there are probably already known. But the fact that the Indian government has made the flow of information about Kashmir, by independent journalists almost impossible, hugely concerns me.
It is deeply troubling how journalists such as Sajad Gul and Asif Sultan have been arrested and how the Independent Kashmir Press Club, the biggest source of information from the region, has been raided and its journalists forcefully replaced by journalists representing the Indian government. The problem does not end with imprisonment; other journalists are not being allowed to fly from Kashmir, in an attempt to stop these messages from getting to the outside World. Ordinary Kashmiris cannot get passports to leave, with their applications being constantly delayed, whilst Kashmiris living abroad are choosing not to return to visit loved ones, due to fears that they will not be allowed to leave. NGOs are also targeted for investigating crimes by the Indian army and police against the Kashmiri people.
UNESCO needs to take a much larger stand in the case of freedom of press and information in Kashmir. It must condemn India’s actions in the most robust terms and advise that the UN Security Council take up the issue. I trust that UNESCO will do more about this issue and begin taking it with the seriousness it deserves.
7 place Fontenoy,
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