David Barsamian

From Socialist Worker: Journalism and Occupation

“FOR OBVIOUS reasons, freedom of the press in Kashmir is limited and constrained. Military occupation with its attendant curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, searches, surveillance, wiretapping of calls and e-mails, and state-sponsored violence, from custodial deaths and extrajudicial killings to torture and disappearances, produce immense pain and suffering among Kashmiris.

Intimidation and fear are widespread. That is the intent, design and logic of occupation. In such a repressive and oppressive atmosphere, people are reluctant to speak freely and provide information to journalists, and journalists do not have freedom of movement to report stories. Occupation nourishes and sustains a climate of timidity, paranoia and intense psychological distress.

The uprising and resistance in Kashmir to Indian rule is one of the major news stories in the world, yet it is underreported. The Indian state has been diligent in framing and manufacturing the news messages coming from Kashmir. It has broken the windowpanes and hearts all over besieged Kashmir. In addition to a series of draconian laws, which are imposed arbitrarily and without any legal recourse, there is a campaign of censoring and controlling journalists.

Another issue complicating the functioning of journalists is the vast network of state spies who deliberately spread disinformation and rumors. In addition, the Indian state directly deports journalists, if they are already in Kashmir, as in the case of Jon Alper; or prevents them from entering Kashmir from Srinagar Airport, as in the case of Gautam Naulakha; or denes entry at any of the international airports. Of course, if journalists report on Kashmir within the conventional government framework, then they will have no problems and will be garlanded with malas.

In late November 2011, I visited the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. I learned that of the top countries in which journalists experience the most difficulty, five are South Asian–Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India…” [to keep reading more click on the link above].

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