I Have No News Of My Parents For Past 5 Days: Journalist In Kashmir Narrates Ordeal And Trauma He And Other Journalists Are Suffering
We had always opened our homes and hearts for you, why did you have to destroy us?
The job of a journalist is to tell the story of the people. But the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, now a Union Territory, is such that every journalist here has become a story themselves.
So let me begin this piece with my own story.
It has been five days, and I have absolutely no news from my parents, siblings and relatives back home in Sopore. August 4, 8:30 pm was the last time I heard the voice of my mother over the phone. I know she is worried about me. I am helpless, and so are you. I know you are waiting for me. But this time I cannot promise whether I will be there with you to celebrate Eid. Somehow, if you are reading this piece, I just want you to know that I am fine and trying to tell the world about this hellhole called Kashmir.
Let us talk about the Kashmir valley.
Over the last five days, the place has been under tight security cover, with a heavy military presence all over. The population here does not even have the simple facility of a landline phone. Mobile calling and mobile internet is a luxury which no Kashmiri can afford in the 21st century.
Amid this lockdown, journalists from various Indian and International agencies are finding it difficult to send their copies across to their desk editors in New Delhi and other parts of the world.
A reporter who has come all the way from the western state of Rajasthan to cover the ongoing crisis in Kashmir is facing a tough time in sending stories to the desk editor stationed in New Delhi. “It is very difficult to send the stories across to my editors due to the tight communication lockdown by the authorities here. I have sent all the videos and photographers in pen drives to New Delhi in last four days,” he said.
Photojournalists working for various International organisations like European Presses Agency (EPA) and Associated Press (AP) have to spend hours trying to reach Srinagar International Airport to handover pen drives to their contacts at the airport.
“In the last four days, I have sent across three chips (pen drives/hard drives/memory cards) from here. We are now running out of chips. We can’t send chips daily from here,” said a photojournalist working for an international organisation.
He said that it is also difficult to cross all the barricades that have been erected to stop people from moving from one part of the Kashmir valley to another. “Either we have to cross all these barricades to reach to the airport, or we have to reach to the spot where any incident takes place. We are caught between the devil and the deep sea,” he said.
Two journalists working for a national newspaper in New Delhi had to travel from SKIMS Hospital in Bemina to Rangreth area of the Srinagar city in search of internet connectivity to send their stories across.
“I came directly to Rangreth from SKIMS in search of internet access, but Rangreth is the same as any other part of the Srinagar city,” one of the journalists said.
“First, there was no access at the DC office in Srinagar for the local media men. Then he said that there is no curfew in place what do you need to curfew pass for? Then we provided them with a list of the journalists who had applied for the curfew pass, but they trashed that too. We are still without curfew passes,” Junaid Kathjo of Rising Kashmir told NewsCentral24x7.
On the night of August 7, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) entered the locality of the Humhama area of Srinagar and harassed the Inhabitants of the area. Allegedly, they broke windowpanes of residential homes. “The (CRPF) came around 11 pm. No stone-pelting had taken place during the day. They pelted stones, hurled abuses and broke our window panes. They also used pepper spray to unnecessarily create health problems for us. We were awake till 1:00 am, till they all left our mohalla (area),” a resident from the area confirmed the incident to Al Jazeera. And the situation on the ground remains on the brink. There were incidents of stone pelting reported again from areas like Parimpora, Pantha Chowk, Rambagh and Hyderpora.
The Indian government burnt the last bridge that connected Srinagar and New Delhi. As for the Indian people and the civil society, you can now come and buy land here, which you longed for. But just a word: we had always opened our homes and hearts for you, why did you have to destroy us?