As Kashmir completes its one month of being under siege with prolonged restrictions over the modes of communication, journalism has come to standstill.
The fourth pillar of democracy has crippled and collapsed in the Valley. Journalists across India have raised concerns over the restricted reporting.
Restrictions Over Reporting
The Logical Indian ventures into the grave crisis and threat looming over the very profession as we give an insight into the plight of journalists across the board from national media representatives to the representatives of the local daily – the deadlock indeed is alarming!
Aakash Hassan,22, a News18 correspondent, told The Logical Indian about the hindrances he came across while reporting for his organization.
“The Media Centre was established in a private hotel where four computers were placed against a hundred journalists. The PCs kept snapping because of the slow server struggling with the 2G speed internet. The same PCs were also used to read the happening outside Kashmir. Hence, it would take a day or two for a journalist to get access to the PCs as numerous lined around them,” says Hassan who is a reporter at the News18.
Hassan later started reporting via the OB Van of his channel where he would articulate his articles and made a video which was then sent to the Delhi Headquarter of his channel.
Another Kashmiri freelance correspondent working with a reputed national media, who asked for anonymity, told The Logical Indian that many of his colleagues have also been harassed by deployed soldiers and forced to delete their footage and pictures. The communication blockade prevented them from getting in touch with their editors, sources on the ground, and government officials for confirmation of events. This stopped them from freely reporting and cross-checking whatever information comes out way.
The freelance correspondent has been shuttling between Srinagar and Delhi to get work done.
Upon asking how would he counter fake news that is simmering the internet, he said, “Fake news can’t be countered when you destroy the credibility of everyone legitimately involved in the business of producing news.”
“The government has discredited itself by lying with a straight face and restricting local journalists access and instead facilitating no locals to push a favourable agenda-driven coverage. Who do people trust now?” he said.
However, the situation is worse for the local media organizations in Kashmir as due to stricter regulations for them, most of the organizations have gone into the state of total paralysis and limbo.
Speaking to Sanika, a journalist who moved to the Valley in June to work with a local media portal called Free Press Kashmir told The Logical Indian about her predicament.
“I left Kashmir because I wasn’t able to do my work as a journalist. International and national media have their feet firmly on the ground. Resources for them came in so that they could work and report. However, local media has seen its greatest setback. Out of around 400 local media present in the Valley only 4-5 of them are operational,” says Sanika.
Sanika told The Logical Indian that newspapers have reduced to 4-5 pages equivalent to a pamphlet.
Sanika stands by the view that if the administration is claiming normalcy, then why not let the journalists take the on-ground report as it is their duty now more than ever to showcase the actual picture of the Valley.
“The dictatorial iron-fist that has brought down upon the Valley leaves no scope especially for the local journalists to thrive,” she further adds.
Many journalists in India have come forward to support the journalists in the Valley.
Meena Menon, 56, an independent journalist and author, has started a petition to compel the government to lift the ban via Change.org.
“I started this petition I read that Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Editor of Kashmir Times, had filed a petition in the Supreme-Court demanding the lifting of press curbs. I thought it would be good to support all the journalists in Jammu and Kashmir whose life was made difficult by the curbs,” said Menon.
— Meena Menon (@meenamo) September 4, 2019
Menon thinks that the value of journalists as eyewitnesses cannot be undermined by placing restrictions on them. So, she started a petition protesting against the fundamental loss of freedom of expression.
So far Menon has garnered 95000 signatures condemning the ban.
“Many people have actually supported silencing of the media which is reflective of our situation today. People don’t question what’s happening and think the media does not deserve any freedom,” adds Menon.
The state of journalism has never been worse in the Valley as it has seen 19 journalists being killed since 1990. However, this proves to be yet another major blow to the profession.