BBC expands radio news coverage in Kashmir

AFP . London | Update:

BBC-LogoThe BBC said Thursday it will expand shortwave radio news coverage in Kashmir to ease the impact of a communications blackout imposed by the Indian government.

The British broadcaster's announcement came after New Delhi scrapped an article of the Indian constitution granting special status to parts of the disputed Himalayan region under its control.

Indian Kashmir -- it is split with arch-rival Pakistan -- has been under lockdown since the day before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the change on August 5.

The BBC said the number and length of programmes will grow in a variety of languages spoken in the densely populated region of the Indian-administered part of Kashmir.

"Given the shutdown of digital services and phone lines in the region, it's right for us to try and increase the provision of news on our short wave radio services," BBC World Service Director Jamie Angus said in a statement.

"The provision of independent and trusted news in places of conflict and tension is one of the core purposes of the World Service."

The BBC said its News Hindi radio output will be extended by 30 minutes from Friday.

News Urdu -- the official language of Pakistan spoken by Muslims who compromise the majority in Indian Kashmir -- will launch a 15-minute daily programme on Monday.

The World Service added that its English morning broadcasts will end an hour later than usual.

The evening English-language news will start an hour earlier and end at their usual time.

The BBC said India is now its radio service's largest market -- picked up by 50 million people a week.

Short wave transmissions travel thousands of miles (kilometres) and are able to bounce over mountains that dominate the region.

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