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Media Bodies Demand Restoration of Blocked News Portals, Cite Threat to Press Freedom

Prominent Indian media bodies call for immediate reinstatement of Kashmir Walla and Gaon Savera digital platforms

New Delhi: A coalition of prominent media organisations, including the Press Club of India (PCI), Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC), Press Association, Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ), and Working News Cameraman Association, has expressed grave concern over the recent actions taken by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to block news portals Kashmir Walla and Gaon Savera, along with their associated social media accounts. The move has sparked outrage in journalistic circles due to the lack of clear justification for such drastic measures, they said.

The Ministry's decision to block access to Kashmir Walla's digital platforms has raised serious questions about the state of press freedom and freedom of expression within India, said a joint press release issued on Thursday.

The affected media bodies argue that this action has been taken without prior warning, official communication, or a chance for the concerned parties to address potential issues. Such a unilateral decision is viewed as a violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, the joint statement read.

Representatives of the media organisations, while expressing deep concern over the situation, said a diverse and vibrant media landscape was essential for a thriving democracy, and freedom of the press served  as a cornerstone for this environment. "The arbitrary blocking of Kashmir Walla's digital presence is seen as a direct impediment to this freedom, hampering the public's access to diverse sources of information", they said.

The recent arrest of the editor of Kashmir Walla has further exacerbated concerns among journalists across the country. The lack of transparent justification for the arrest has sent a chilling message that media professionals may face retribution or intimidation for carrying out their duties, the statement read.

In response to these pressing concerns, the coalition of media bodies, led by the Press Club of India, has urgently called for the immediate restoration of Kashmir Walla's website and social media accounts. They argue that the exercise of free speech and the dissemination of diverse viewpoints are vital for the functioning and growth of a democratic society. The media organisations have appealed to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to reconsider its actions and uphold the core values that India stands for.

As the situation unfolds, the media organisations hope that the government will take steps to ensure that media outlets such as Kashmir Walla and Gaon Savera can continue their operations without hindrance or fear. The media orgnaisaitons said they stand united in advocating for press freedom, responsible journalism, and the public's right to access information freely.

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