Freedom of Expression

Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one's opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".Kashmir has never been a safe place to work for journalist’s right from the initiation of turmoil in Valley. Media professionals have become targets from different sides of which interest’s media has hampered. Those who want to fallow their code of ethics of their profession while disposing off their duties have been attacked time and again.
An order passed by the District Magistrate of Srinagar regarding the ban on a newspaper in Kashmir stated that it contained such material and content which tends to harbour acts of violence and disturb public peace and serenity. The newspaper had imperativelyuncovered the violence in Kashmir in the past months, and brought forward the extreme violations of human rights carried out by security forces. Such acts were condemned and regarded as opponents and “villains”against the spirit of democracy and freedom of press. Without even mentioning any news item in the newspaper Kashmir Reader that incited violence it was targeted and was banned just because it tried to bring out the truth. We have to understand that the media plays a crucial role in reporting human rights abuses to the people of the nation and it is the right of the people to know the truth about their country and it should be the duty of the government to respect the freedom of the press, and the right of people to receive information. Its move of closing down a newspaper just because it brought out the bitter truth that brought out the true picture of the state undermined the right of expression in the state. Under international human rights law, any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression on the ground of public order must be demonstrably necessary and proportionate. The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to which India is a party to has stated that the free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This explains that free press and other media outlets are able to comment on public issues without restraint so that they inform the public about the society they are stakeholders of.Throughout the years many people have become victim by expressing their views whether by militants or by the security forces or more importantly by the government itself, from well-known people to ordinary citizens all paid the price of exercising their right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Lassa Kaul was allegedly killed by militants on his way to home. Themurder was explainedon the groundsby then governor Shri Jagmohan that Kaul had incurredd the anger of the militants by broadcasting programs, which the militants thought were against Islamic views. Mohammed Shaban Vakil who was the Editor of Al- Safa Newspaper was killed on April 1991 by some unidentified personnel who gate-crashed into office of the newspaper and shot him dead. The killing is still an unsolved mystery and many believe that the reason for his death was his assassination was the column he wrote for his newspaper discussing the truths about the state. Ghulam MuhammedLone who was a newspaper agent contributed to several publicationsin bringing news from all around the valley, he was killed by a group of masked gunmen on August 29, 1994,when they fired indiscriminately inside hishouse. Lone’s eight year old son became an ignorant and innocent victim and was caught in the animosity and also died in the shootout, yet this encounter is blamed on the army by the relatives of Lone. Ali, a photographer for Agence France- Presse (AFP) and a camera operator forAsian News International was killed when a parcel-bomb which was addressed to Yusuf Jameel,Srinagar Correspondent for the BBC and Reuters, exploded in his hands on September 7 and he lost the battle of his life onSeptember 10, 1995.Ghulam Rasool Sheikh was theeditor of Rehnuma-e- Kashmir and Saffron times. Sheikh had previously written about increase in killings and arson incidents across his hometown Pampore. Family members of Sheikh say a militia group backed by Indian security forces hadkidnapped him in March of that year and later murdered him.Altaf Ahmed Faktoo was an anchor for the state owned Doordarshan television station inSrinagar. He was assassinated on January 1 1997, by unidentified gunmen, by using a silencergun to shoot him. He had previously received repeated threats by certain militant groups for the reason that he had aired pro-governmentnews reports that were critical of the separatist movement in the valley and hence he became a victim of the curse dwelling in Kashmir.Apart from the above mentioned atrocities the latest tool of curbing the freedom of expression in the valley has been seen by the ban on the internet. In today’s world one of the fastest, easiest, widest and most important source of communication and information is the Internet. It is the best possible way to bring out the true information regarding any situation and can reach millions of people of the world at the same time by just one click of the button, anyone from anywhere can access it and in some countries it has become a legal right for everyone to have the access to the internet, but when it comes to Kashmir there are no basic rights for the people let alone be rights for the internet hence just like other rights this one gets immediately curbed once any sort of distortions are sensed by the authorities. Be it any situation, small or big, to restrain the people of Kashmir speak out their minds in front of the nation and to nominate their government for all its wrong doings. The internet and telecommunications bans meet the requirement to hold its applier for punishment if it fails to meet the standards required under international human rights law to limit freedom of expression, and in Kashmir a total of 22 websites including popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, SnapChat, YouTube, Flikr, Tumblr, Google+, Skype, Viber, Pinterest and Reddit and data services were banned on orders from the government, although the government has always maintained in its statements that this action was required as the circulation ofanti-national messages spread all over the internet might have ignited further violence.