News outlet shut in IIOJK as media crackdown tightens

Local newspapers are placed on a newsstand along a road in Srinagar on January 29, 2022. — AFP
Local newspapers are placed on a newsstand along a road in Srinagar on January 29, 2022. — AFP
  • Staff of news portal comprised 6 members.
  • “We… emptied out the premises today,” staffer says.
  • Critics call out India’s crackdown against press in IIOJK.

NEW DELHI: A news website based in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir (IIOJK) has shut its office in Srinagar following a fierce crackdown against press freedom in the occupied valley by the Indian government.

The website and social media accounts of the portal, The Kashmir Walla, were also blocked by authorities two days ago.

“Six persons used to sit at the office and we removed all our belongings and emptied out the premises today,” a staffer at the news website told AFP on Monday.

The platform’s shutdown comes amid the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led administration’s efforts to impose a clampdown against press freedom in IIOJK on a larger level with numerous journalists being illegally detained or constantly summoned due to their work since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the law which granted special status to the disputed territory and stripped it of autonomy.

India’s Hindu nationalist Modi has been accused by critics of stifling opposition and critical media.

On Saturday, “we woke up to another deadly blow of finding access to our website and social media accounts blocked”, staff at the outlet said in a statement late Sunday.

Their internet service provider blamed the blocks on a government order, and they were also served an eviction notice by their landlord, the statement added.

“The opaque censorship is gut-wrenching. There isn’t a lot left for us to say anymore,” it said.

Fahad Shah, the portal’s editor — accused of “glorifying terrorism” and “spreading fake news” by Indian authorities — was arrested last year and remains in jail.

Over half a million Indian soldiers are deployed in the occupied territory to ward off any protests against the illegal rule in the disputed valley.

— Additional input by AFP

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