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Published On: Fri, Aug 16th, 2019

India in information war with Kashmir

Eight million people have been completely cut off from the outside world for the past ten days in Indian-administered Kashmir, because all forms of communication have been disconnected, including mobile phone networks, landlines, TV and Internet.

Image/CIA

The information warfare campaign started 10 days ago under the direction of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As a result, independent news reporting from Kashmir is almost non-existent. The authorities in New Delhi are doing everything possible to ensure that only the government’s version is heard. Basically, media outlets equipped with satellite uplinks are the only ones that have been able to broadcast from Kashmir.

The India campaign has drawn the criticism of Reporters Without Borders. “We call on Narendra Modi’s government to immediately lift all restrictions on the flow of independent news and information in Kashmir,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“By preventing thousands of journalists from doing their job properly, the Indian authorities are violating article 19 of the Indian constitution. Above, all, they are depriving the entire Indian population of a plurality of views that is essential for a democracy to function properly.”

“There is a clear division between ‘pro-state’ and ‘anti-state’ media in India now,” said a Delhi-based journalist with an English-language daily who was among the first to report on the ground. “With Kashmir, this division is beginning to show,” he said, asking not to be identified. “This marks the beginning of the process of turning the media into an ancillary of the state.”

Foreign reporters are kept out of this information warfare. In normal times, India-based foreign correspondents must get a special permit to visit Jammu and Kashmir, a permit that can be refused on entirely arbitrary grounds. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a New Delhi-based German reporter told RSF it was impossible to go there now. “It seems like India doesn’t want the world to know what’s happening inside Kashmir,” he said.

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