Sajjad Haider

From BBC: “Killing the Truth in Kashmir

“Local journalists have been beaten and prevented from covering recent unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir. More than 100 people have died since June during clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in some of the bloodiest scenes the disputed state has seen in years.”

“A local journalist working for the BBC recently had to get his pink-coloured curfew pass, specially designed for the press, replaced with one meant for those attending marriage ceremonies in order to reach me at my home in curfew-bound central Srinagar.

A considerate police officer had told him that this was the best option if he wanted to escape the wrath of the security personnel enforcing the curfew on the streets.

The treatment of local reporters by the authorities is in contrast to that received by visiting correspondents.

They have come to be known locally as “embedded journalists” and are accorded full assistance by the state government to move around freely in Kashmir. Local journalists covering the unrest – and living amid it – were banned from moving around during the curfew while permit cards issued to them were cancelled.

The Kashmir Press Association recently said this amounted to an “unwritten ban” on local media outlets and accused the government of adopting a discriminatory attitude.

“Scores of local journalists have been thrashed while discharging their professional duties,” it said.”

“The absence of private businesses in Kashmir, the dependence on government advertisements, the government’s monopoly on the flow of information and the fear of reprisals are all factors which have prohibited the growth of a fully free media.

So local reports are sometimes constrained to give space to propaganda alongside the facts.

For example, on 24 September the Jammu and Kashmir police rejected media reports that 2,000 people had been injured in police and paramilitary action during 105 days of unrest.

Questioning the figures, a spokesperson for the police said that only 504 civilians had been injured. But according to him, the number of police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel injured was nearly 4,000.

However, according to the register of one single hospital in Srinagar (the SK Institute of Medical Sciences), 599 civilians with firearms injuries had been admitted during this period.

There are dozens of other hospitals treating the injured in the rest of Kashmir.”

“In Kashmir today there are about 25 news channels available – but not one of them is Kashmiri.

The local media are limited either to newspapers or to a handful of cable channels.

As if that was not enough, the government appears terrified of what remains of their freedom.”

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