How India is censoring the Kashmir story

Local media outlets are under attack as police raid offices of Valley's leading newspapers.

 |  5-minute read |   16-07-2016

Day Eight. Kashmir is curfewed. At least 43 civilians have been killed.

All of them have been identified by the local media. More than 2,200 persons are seriously injured, out of which at least 100 are on the verge of losing their eyesight permanently after being hit by the lethal pellet guns.

Yes, it is a war-like situation in curfewed Kashmir. Despite strict curfew, the young and angry Kashmiri protesters across the length and breadth of the Valley are in defiance. They are defying curfew to stage protest demonstrations.

The sequence goes like this: Curfew. Defiance. Protests. Firing. Bullets. Pellets. Injured. Killed. Curfew again. Protests again. Stone pelting again. Killings.

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Emergency has been declared in all major hospitals of Kashmir. Protesters hit by bullets and pellets are being ferried in ambulances, which regularly come under attack of the trigger-happy paramilitary CRPF personnel.

Hindustan Times reported that at least 50 ambulances have been attacked by the CRPF in various parts of Kashmir thus far.

After the killing of Burhan Wani, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s popular tech-savvy commander in Kashmir, under mysterious circumstances in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 8, the central government has been trying its best and worst to kill the Kashmir story.

In this attempt of controlling the thought processes in besieged Kashmir valley, the state government is indeed a partner in crime.

And, more importantly, the powerful security grid has imposed unprecedented restrictions on the movement of Kashmiris with an aim to instill fear among the local populace.

The message is loud and clear: Anyone raising his/her voice against the continued injustices will get what he/she deserves.

Bullet. Pellet. Death.

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As if this wasn’t enough, now local media outlets, which were discharging their professional duties of reporting facts from ground zero, are under severe attack. Their professional work has unnerved the state government.

Therefore, in utter frustration, the police personnel raided the offices of Kashmir’s two leading English dailies: Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir.

gk_071616040941.jpg Screenshot of Greater Kashmir's website.

"Authorities on Saturday midnight gagged the Greater Kashmir by raiding its corporate office at Rangreth on city outskirts. Police arrested the Greater Kashmir printing press foreman Biju Chaudary and two other employees," the newspaper’s website reported.

"The policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir, and more than 50,000 printed copies of Kashmir Uzma, and closed down the GKC printing press," it added.

The story of another Srinagar-based daily Rising Kashmir is no different.

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Jammu and Kashmir Police also seized copies of Rising Kashmir early Saturday morning and raided its press at Sheikhpora in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

"A police party from Budgam raided the press to seize the copies of Rising Kashmir and other publications. As the staff had left after printing the copies, police took into custody all the employees including foreman Mohammad Yousuf and asked him to identify the distribution site. They later reached Press Enclave and seized the vehicle along with the driver," Rising Kashmir wrote on its website.

"The staff was later taken to Police Post Humhama where they seized all the copies of the newspaper. The staff of the press was let off later on but only after being harassed and intimidated," it added.

Similarly, the printed copies of another English daily Kashmir Reader were also seized.

"Police on Saturday night raided the printing press and seized the printed copies of Kashmir Reader. At 2pm, police raided KT printing press at Rangreth and detained eight persons while seizing copies of Kashmir Reader," the Reader website said.

Local Kashmiris have been denied their right to receive copies of their favoured newspapers since the last two days. In most parts of Kashmir, cable TV connection has been blocked.

Worse, the mobile internet in the restive Himalayan valley is banned since July 9. All cellular services barring the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) are not functional since last two days.

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The sole purpose is to kill the Kashmir story. To deny all Kashmiris the right to know what is happening to them. To deny Indian audiences access to know the Kashmir story.

On the other hand, some sections of Indian media, especially news channels like Times Now, Zee News and NewsX are spreading canards and indulging in propaganda against common Kashmiris with their vitriolic commentary and misinformed analysis.

Zee News, in one of its recently aired programmes, showed a pheran-clad Kashmiri youth throwing a petrol bomb at the CRPF personnel.

The editors of the channel perhaps forgot the basic fact that it is the month of July. The mercury is soaring. No one wears pheran in Kashmir in July. Pheran is a long woolen cloak which Kashmiris wear during the harsh winters.

Not only this, the rabid and noisy Times Now is saying that "32 persons killed in Kashmir in Pakistan-sponsored violence" as if the Pakistani Army is showering bullets on the Kashmiri protesters.

All basic ethics of journalism to report facts and analyse objective facts are being shelved by large sections of the media. Local journalists reporting for various Indian channels are being sidelined and embedded journalism on the pattern of Iraq is being encouraged.

Many right-wing Indian journalists are being para-dropped in Kashmir to lend credence to India’s propaganda on Kashmir.

And the local media in Kashmir is gagged.

That’s the Kashmir story which the Centre wants to kill. And doesn’t want the world to know.

What a shame!

Writer

Gowhar Geelani Gowhar Geelani @gowhargeelani

The writer is a journalist, columnist and analyst.

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