Media repression in Kashmir amid curfews and protests

17.07.2016 - Pressenza Hong Kong

Media repression in Kashmir amid curfews and protests
Jammu 2015 (Image by Shilpa Thakur)

Counterpunch ran an article, The Kashmir Story, by journalist Gowhar Geelani in its July 16, 2016 edition. It’s an important story as little news gets out beyond India concerning this politically blighted region because its an old story and too much is going on elsewhere but for those living in Kashmir-Jammu, the continuously disrupted daily life that has been the common lot for so many years is causing great pain and suffering.

The recent situation is told: “Kashmir is curfewed. At least 43 civilians are 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 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 Kashmir 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. Killings again. Stone pelting again. Killings.”

The paramilitary CRPF personnel are trigger-happy it is noted and The Hindustan Times newspaper reported that at least 50 ambulances have been attacked by these forces.

This most recent outbreak of violence comes after the killing of Burhan Wani, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen’s popular technically aware commander in Kashmir. This happened under mysterious circumstances in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on July 8 this year. Since then the Indian state has stifled the Kashmir story and it is the state government that is directly responsible for this official embargo.

But even more hard hitting as that the all-powerful security grid has imposed unprecedented restrictions over the movement of Kashmiris and it does this to instill fear among the local population as a means of control.

The local media outlets, far from being able to perform their professional duties of reporting facts are themselves under attack telling that their reports are unnerving the state government. Evidence lies in police personnel raiding the offices of Kashmir’s two leading English dailies: Greater Kashmir and Rising Kashmir, to quote Gowhar Geelani:

“Authorities on Saturday midnight gagged the Greater Kashmir by raiding the Greater Kashmir 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,” the report added. The story of another Srinagar-based daily Rising Kashmir is no different. Jammu & 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 police 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.” 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 2 pm, police raided KT printing press at Rangreth and detained eight person while seizing copies of Kashmir Reader,” the Reader website stated.

Furthermore, mobile phone services and the Internet itself has been taken down in the Himalayan valley, gone since July 9 with all cellular services barring the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) not functioning over the two days of state security operations.

The sole purpose of the press repression is to stop the Kashmir story getting out among the locals, denying Kashmiris right to know what is happening among them and beyond those hills to deny access to the greater Indian audience to know the Kashmir story and the violent antics of the Indian government.

Sadly, bought-by-the-government media outlets are running stories portraying Pakistan as the culprit. This is what can happen when the press is not free to report on actual events.

Gowhar Geelani adds that 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 ‘parachuted’ into Kashmir to lend credence to India’s propaganda machine while the local media in Kashmir is gagged. That’s the Kashmir story which the Indian state wants to kill. And doesn’t want the world to know. SHAME… he ends.

Gowhar Geelani is a journalist, columnist and analyst. Twitter @gowhargeelani

This article first appeared in Daily O

To see original on Counterpunch go to:


Categories: Asia, Culture and Media, Human Rights, International
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