Curfew, curbs frustrating local, int’l journalists in IOK » Kashmir Media Service

Srinagar, September 10 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the unprecedented curfew and communication blackout, which entered 37th day, today, is frustrating local as well as international journalists in the territory.

Journalists representing local and international media are dependent on the so-called Indian government’s media facilitation center in Srinagar, which has an internet, but no Wi-Fi access. Talking to media, Ishfaq Tantry, General Secretary of Kashmir Press Club narrated difficulties to report stories from Kashmir under the present circumstances.

“The communications blockade has indeed adversely affected the ground reporting. In the absence of internet and telephones, including the mobile phones, journalists are finding it difficult to verify and cross-check information,” he said. Further, reporters are unable to get playbacks to check their edited stories or even to receive phone calls from their offices for fact checking. “It appears that the information blockade was meant to prevent stories from Kashmir going out,” he said.

An independent journalist, Safwat Zargar, said the newsgathering became a major casualty in the communication blockade. “The blockade has crippled reporters representing the print and online media outlets. …First and major casualty is the news-gathering and inability of journalists to reach to the government and their sources for confirmation,” he said.

Basharat Masood, who represents widely circulated daily the Indian Express, says that he has never experienced more difficult times for journalists as at present. A journalist for over past 15 years, Masood described the clampdown as “unprecedented”. “It has been an onerous task to send our stories,” he tosaid.

Local media experiences a much more difficult situation. As many as 180 English and Urdu daily newspapers have been publishing from Srinagar and just five of them are publishing due to restrictions and in the absence of access to the wires.

“We have reduced the number of pages to half, because we are unable to produce content for 16 pages every day,” said an editor of a leading Urdu daily, whose truncated newspaper is hitting stands.

Farooq Khan, senior photojournalist, said that in the first few days after Aug. 5, he would find a messenger and send pictures through flash drives. But most of the journalists are completely dependent on the government media center.

Kashmir Press Club and other groups representing media have expressed serious concerns over the communication blockade that is affecting the working of journalists.

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