We, the members of the Network of Women in Media, India, an association of more than 500 media women across India, condemn the revocation of Article 370, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, along with allied Bills introduced as executive orders in Parliament on the following grounds:
- This move takes away the original promise of a special status made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir when they agreed to be part of the Indian union at the time of Independence.
- It does this without consulting the people of the state or discussing the matter in the country’s Parliament.
- These unilateral actions further disenfranchise an already disenchanted people.
- The bifurcation of the state and making Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into separate Union Territories, the latter without even a legislature, is a blatant attempt to ensure further control by the Centre, promotion of political appointees, and marginalisation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir from political matters
- This move was made in unseemly haste and in a climate of fear sharpened by the deployment of huge numbers of troops. The past few days have also witnessed a massive clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir on democratic freedoms and civil liberties; restriction on mobility; disruption of means of communication and Internet shutdowns in particular; house arrest of politicians and crackdown on freedom of speech and expression, as well as the right to information.
The lack of honesty and transparency that preceded the move, along with the circumvention of democratic process are ominous for the survival of democracy and consequently for the right to freedom of expression, the right to information and for media freedom itself.
We call for an urgent, wide-ranging public debate on this grave matter, which must include civil society, journalists, lawyers and concerned citizens alarmed at the apparent hijacking of the Constitution. Until such widely held consultation is undertaken in a peaceful and democratic manner, we demand that the constitutional safeguard of the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir be restored to them forthwith.
The Network of Women in Media, India
August 5, 2019