Lift all gags on freedom of speech in Valley: activists

‘People of J&K must be allowed to express their protest’
A group of activists who visited the Kashmir Valley have demanded that all means of communication — landline telephones, mobile phones and Internet — be restored with immediate effect.
The group comprising economist Jean Drèze, Kavita Krishnan of the CPI(ML), Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women’s Association and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People’s Movements toured the Valley from August 9 to 13. At a press conference here on Wednesday, the group said local newspapers were unable to function due to the communication lockdown and because they had run out of newsprint that came from Delhi.
“We demand that the gags on the freedom of speech, expression and protest be lifted from J&K with immediate effect.”
The activists were not allowed to show video clips and photographs by the management of the Press Club of India where they spoke. Mr. Dreze said, “Permission was refused to us to show the videos. We were told that the projector was not working but the management is under pressure and surveillance.” When asked how the group moved around since the Valley had been under “curfew” like conditions, one of them said “it was difficult to move but not impossible”. “We met two victims of pellet gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar. The two young men [Waqar Ahmad and Wahid] had faces, arms and torso full of pellets. Their eyes were bloodshot and blinded,” the activists said in a statement.

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