One scribe said that though the national media is able to do their job, though with much difficulty, security forces hate Kashmiri journalists.
Srinagar: Muhammed Arif (name changed) is busy making kahwa at his office-cum-residence in Press Colony in the heart of Srinagar. He should have been out in the streets armed with his camera travelling the length and breadth of the Kashmir Valley to document what was happening as the state of Jammu& Kashmir goes through its most traumatic phase since Independence. But as the Indian government has clamped down on all news coming out of the Valley and imposed a curfew, Arif, like scores of other local journalists, finds himself idle, helpless and frustrated. It has been a week since the Indian government scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated the state, imposing a major clampdown and restrictions including a communications blackout.
With no internet connectivity and restrictions on movements, local Kashmiri newspapers both English and Urdu, about 45 of them, have not published their editions for a week now causing frustration to build up among Kashmiri journalists.
“What to do, the administration has forced so much of free time on us and this at a time when the issue concerns my state,” says Arif. Other journalists sitting with him nod in agreement as they sip kahwa and smoke cigarettes. One of them says that though the national media is able to do their job, though with much difficulty, security forces, hate Kashmiri journalists. “We have access to people all over the Valley and security forces know we will write the truth. That is what they are afraid of,” said one of them.
“Yesterday, most of us photographers sent USB drives (containing photographs) through a passenger who was flying to Jammu. We requested him to hand it over to a contact of ours. We have no idea if he has thrown it somewhere or made the effort to reach out to our colleagues in Jammu,” said another photographer who contributes photographs to various media outlets.
“All we do is go upto Lal Chowk and take some shots, but security forces don’t allow us to do even that most times. Otherwise, we take random photos here and there, wherever the security forces allow us, but since we are unable to publish our editions, this is of no use. Yet we are doing it,” said a frustrated photographer, adding that at many places he was forced to shut his camera.
Reporters too are not to be seen anywhere since the media blackout began. “The administration should allow the media to function freely. How long will they continue to black us out? All Kashmiri papers have suffered huge losses,” said a journalist.