Chris Morris in Srinagar

From BBC: “Journalism threatened in Kashmir

“Since July 2010, more than 100 people have died in clashes between security forces and anti-government demonstraters in Indian-administered Kashmir, and sometimes it is the journalists trying to cover the demonstrations that have become the targets themselves.

[Listen to “From our own Correspondent” (Kashmir from 12.15 minutes onwards)]

When I met Farooq Shah he was lying under a blanket in the corner of his living room in obvious discomfort.

Farooq had a broken arm and stitches on his head.

The previous evening, when he heard that the curfew had been relaxed, he had made the mistake of wandering down to the main road at the end of his lane.

The police were beating passers-by with long wooden sticks, he recalled.

He told them he was a journalist – a photographer with a local newspaper, Rising Kashmir. So they beat him, too.

It has been a long, hard summer for journalists who ply their trade amid the beguiling beauty of the Kashmir Valley.

Months of street clashes have seen more than 100 young men lose their lives – nearly all of them shot dead by the police.

And for some time now, the police have been turning on the people who are telling this story to the world.

Curfew passes have been ignored or torn up.

Journalists have been threatened and intimidated. And the national press in India has not paid a great deal of attention.

The BBC has not been immune. Our Urdu service reporter, Riyaaz Masroor, was beaten earlier this year, a hairline fracture on his arm courtesy of a police baton.

And last week – the latest victim: Merajuddin, a veteran TV cameraman working for the Associated Press, was trying to reach the state assembly with his son Omar, another cameraman.

The police ignored their passes and when they protested the blows came raining down. Merajuddin took one on the side of the neck which left him lying in a heap on the road.

Colleagues helped him away before further damage could be done.

Kashmir’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, rang him to apologise. In fact he said sorry three times, which is all well and good.

But there seem to be plenty of people in the valley who do not want the local media to get their stories out.

TV news channels have been taken off air, and newspapers have been prevented from publishing or distributing for weeks at a time.

Vendors have been threatened, and copies seized from street corners. The chief minister says it is nothing to do with him. Which begs the question – who is running the show?”


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