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Phone services cut for four hours in Kashmir Valley

Phone services cut for four hours in Kashmir Valley

Published on Tuesday 21 August 2012.
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Reporters Without Borders reiterates its condemnation of India’s readiness to restrict freedom of information, seen again when telecommunications were temporarily suspended in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir on 15 August, preventing journalists from gathering or reporting news and information.

On the state government’s orders, phone companies suspended services in the Kashmir Valley for nearly four hours (from about 8 a.m. to 12 noon) on 15 August, India’s independence day, on the grounds that separatist groups used mobile phones to set off bombs in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu a few years ago.

Some services were suspended all day. Phone services were also suspended on the anniversary of India’s independence last year.

"It’s ironic that, when India celebrates its independence day, Kashmiris are held hostage," said Syed Ali Safvi, a reporter for Al-Alam and head of the Taghrib News Agency.

Journalists were unable to communicate with their offices or anyone else either by phone or by email when services were cut, without any prior announcement by the authorities or the phone companies.

News media were similarly unable to reach their reporters and the head of the Kashmir Dispatch news website said it was virtually impossible to operate while the suspension lasted.

Ranked 131st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, India was added to the list of countries "under surveillance" in the latest Reporters Without Borders survey of "Enemies of the Internet," released in March.

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