Written by: Maemuna Sadaf
Journalism is a way to communicate the present situations of any area to the rest of the world. Journalism is a global profession. Journalism can be written, broadcasted live, photo, etc. Photojournalists are mostly first-hand source, the witness of conflicts and human rights violations. They are specially facing life-threatening problems. Journalism especially photojournalism is considered a difficult profession because it is meant to expose the right as well as the worst from society. Journalism is specifically difficult in war-stricken areas. But in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) journalism is considered as a crime.
Due to frequent internet blockage IOK journalists, face difficulty in broadcasting their stories and full filling their duties. In recent lockdown and revoke of article 370, life in IOK became stagnant and miserable. The lockdown of the internet has ceased communication. The Indian authorities had snapped the broadband internet connection of the Kashmir press club. This move meant 200 journalists who are a member of Kashmir Press Club; fraternity could not file their reports. Hence, Internet blockage is the main hindrance in full filling the profession of journalism in IOK.
Besides the difficulties of internet blockage, journalists of the valley face imprisonment, torture and even murder for their obvious duty. They are continuously harassed. Indian authorities are seeking forced undertakings from news organizations regarding assurance to defend Indian defined narrative. India has also issued an advisory to international journalists who are working in India, reminding them that they would need prior permission to travel to “protected areas” including IOK. IOK journalists are bound to ensure the Indian government promoted versions. They are summed and called to police stations often. The detention of Journalists in Counter Insurgency Centre (Cargo) in Srinagar has become a routine matter.
Beside local journalists, Peerzada Ashiq who works for “The Hindu” was also summoned to Kothi Bagh Police station. He was interrogated for breaking news regarding IOK. Aqib Javaid of Daily Kashmir Observer was interrogated for interviewing Aasiya Andrabi (Chairman Dukhtaran-e-Millat). Asif Sultan Assistant Editor at Kashmir Narrator was arrested in lieu of defaming India and possession of incriminatory material on his laptop. None of these charges were substantiated. These assaults on journalists are an attempt to suppress freedom of expression in IOK.
On the other hand, under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), journalists are captured, detained, tortured and molested by the Indian army for portraying the true events to the world. Recently, pellets were fired on four photojournalists in Shopian Area of the valley. This assault left these journalists injured. Asian Forum for Human Rights development (FORUM-Asia) expressed its concerns over the firing and detention of journalists. Journalist broadcasting truth is accused of spying and supporting Pakistan. These journalists are detained, tortured and left without any proof of allegation on them. In recent curfew, journalism is the most suffered profession in IOK. Only a few local and international journalists are daring enough to work in IOK in today´s situation. Operating freely from the valley has become a dream for IOK journalists.
Concluding more! Human Rights commissions condemned India for its genocide in Kashmir including people from any walk of life. Human Rights watch urge India to ensure the security of Journalists in IOK. United Nations should take positive actions and pressurize India to bring peace in the valley and provide security to the journalist. India should allow International journalists and news agencies to work in IOK providing sufficient security to them. Indian army should be prohibited to capture or torture any registered journalist regardless of any proven allegation. Human Rights violations should be controlled