Sunday March 26, 2023

Foreign journalists barred from covering IOK, BBC confirms

August 06, 2020

LONDON: Foreign journalists are not allowed to cover the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) after the fascist Modi government revoked Article 370 in violation of UN Resolutions on Kashmir, which gave a special status to the disputed territory, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has confirmed.

There has been intense criticism on British Television channels for not covering the genocide in Kashmir adequately despite the fact that over one million Kashmiris are residing in the United Kingdom. To mark one year since Kashmir’s autonomy was scrapped, British Kashmiris have launched dozens of petitions condemning BBC, ITV and SKY for not covering the issue of Kashmir.

In an interview with Geo and The News, a BBC spokesperson confirmed that only Indian nationals working for the BBC were allowed to enter Indian occupied Kashmir.

It’s widely known that India doesn’t allow European and English parliamentarians as well as independent media to enter Kashmir but the admission itself by the BBC gives further credence to the fact that India doesn’t give any regard to the lives of over seven million besieged Kashmiris and doesn’t want the world to know about their plight.

The BBC spokesman told The News and Geo, “The BBC is committed to covering the situation in Kashmir from all perspectives. Our immediate and direct response to the blackout imposed in August 2019 was to step up BBC World Service shortwave broadcasts for Kashmir in Hindi, Urdu and English - for four months.”

The BBC confirmed that in 2019, the broadcasting service saw unprecedented digital traffic to their Hindi and Urdu language websites.

Justifying its coverage, the BBC spokesman said, "The BBC was the only international broadcaster covering events on the ground in August 2019. BBC News coverage was widely acclaimed for explaining this complex story to global audiences, and for helping both parties in the conflict understand each other’s perspectives.

"We have continued our in-depth coverage of Kashmir throughout 2020 and the work of our teams in South Asia add depth to the BBC’s coverage of the Kashmir story in the UK and internationally. BBC News Hindi and Urdu reporters in Kashmir continue to provide audiences in India, Pakistan, the wider region, as well as English-speaking audiences around the world, with balanced and trusted news and analysis."

The BBC also confirmed that special content marking the first anniversary of the revocation of the special status of Kashmir would run across all of BBC outlets and was currently in production.

The News and Geo reached out to BBC, ITV and Sky news requesting comments regarding their coverage of the genocide in Kashmir but even after multiple requests for comments, there was no response from these major news networks.

This is regardless of the fact that Hong Kong, which also saw a change in its status saw unprecedented coverage by major British TV networks on a daily basis but Kashmir was somehow missing in mainstream British TV coverage. Explosion on Beirut, killing and injuring hundreds, on 4th August remained a breaking news on BBC, SKY and ITV for over 24 hours but in comparison these broadcasters have given zero coverage to the issue of Kashmir.

According to a recent op-ed published in Nekkei Asian Review, "India's Article 370 experiment in Kashmir has failed." This comes at a time of a recent curfew being imposed in Kashmir on 4th and 5th August marking the anniversary of the change in the special status of Kashmir.

The fascist Indian government has also imposed the longest ever lockdown of internet and telephone services, completely disrupting communication channels of Kashmiris which continue to live under the siege of Indian forces.

One million diaspora of Kashmiri heritage have expressed dismay over lack and sometimes absence of Kashmir coverage on UK’s TV networks. Several members of the Kashmiri community said they have their kith and kins in Indian Occupied Kashmir and media blackout is making it impossible for the world to know their sufferings and come to their help.

Kashmiri activists Khawaja Hasan Butt, Tehseen Gilani, Tariq Dar, Zafar Qureshi, Zubair Iqbal Kiyani, Raja Sikandar and others lamented that BBC has failed to justify its editorial policy on Kashmir. They questioned why the BBC gives coverage to every conflict but on the issue of Indian Occupied Kashmir the BBC has been mute.

It is conspicuous that despite restrictions on foreign journalists to travel and cover situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, there is little protest seen by these journalists and media outlets, Kashmiri leaders said.

They said that they pay licence fees to BBC every month and expect BBC to represent them and be neutral and robust in reporting the genuine issues affecting the people of Kashmir in Britain.