'Kashmiri Content Creators Like Us Struggle Due to Curbs on Creative Freedom'

Citing security reasons, content creators say they struggle to exercise creativity.

Published
My Report
4 min read

Video Producer: Maaz Hasan
Video Editor:
Rajbir Singh

For decades, Kashmir has been in the eye of the storm. Be it the separatist movement, Kashmiri Pandits' exodus, militancy, or abrogation of Article 370 – the Valley has seen it all in the last three decades.

The chaos in the Valley has disrupted the lives and livelihood of lakhs of Kashmiris, and content creators are one such group of professionals facing the heat of the turbulence.

We, as freelance journalists, thought of speaking to our colleagues and fellow content creators to understand the challenges we are facing in the present times.

Imad Clicks, a film-maker from Kashmir, said,

"In Kashmir, I have been to a lot of places that are known for its real beauty. It is not only about tourist places like Sonmarg or Gulmarg. There are a lot of beautiful places that are unexplored. But as a travel content creator, I have never been able to capture that in Kashmir. For instance, Shankaracharya Temple, Pari Mahal, hilltops, or Hari Parbat. We are never able to shoot, make vlogs, or create content there."
Imad Clicks, Filmmaker

Imad Clicks, a film-maker, from Kashmir

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"We have to work with a lot of clients that are outside Kashmir. They are car manufacturers or mobile manufacturers. They say they want to create advertisements having great footage. But if we have to go to those epic locations, mostly mountainous areas on the outskirts of the city, we have to follow the long process of permissions which sometimes takes a month and even gets rejected."

"It becomes very difficult for us to explain to the Army personnel why we are carrying cameras if we aren't journalists. We don't have any special card which can identify our job. For us to make them understand that we make videos for YouTube is very difficult," adds the film-maker.

Similar Issues Faced by Photographers

Photographers also share the same pain. Aneaus Sheikh, a daily life photographer, told us about the challenges she faces every day in taking a photograph.

Aneaus Sheikh, a daily life photographer, from Kashmir

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"After the 2019 incident (Abrogation of Article 370), security has been a big issue. If we talk about security with respect to photography, there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to that. For example, if I have to click a heritage house at Lal Chowk, security personnel will come and check my phone and then they will ask if I ever took permission with respect to that although nobody lives there. If we talk about daily life photography, if I have to click a life (natural) element, even then I need a proper permission. There might be a click-worthy frame and I am desperate to click it... but I will never get permission to. Cops don't give us permission."
Aneaus Sheikh, Daily Life Photographer

For Journalists, Internet Blockade a Massive Issue

Well, and for us journalists, everyone knows how difficult it is to work without the internet as it gets blocked every now and then, leaving us helpless without proper communication.

Khalid Khan, a fellow freelance journalist who has been working for four years, talks about how difficult it gets when the internet is snapped.

"My colleagues and I work for different organisations. Some work for India-based news organisations and some work for international news organisations. We face a lot of problems. If any incident takes place anywhere, we have to report it. We have to stay in contact with the news editors outside. We have to continuously send them updates. When internet is snapped, the communication is blocked."
Khalid Khan, Freelance Journalist

Khalid Khan, freelance journalist, from Kashmir

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

"Some journalists have to do live sessions from the location. But when the internet is blocked, we are unable to forward the data. Most of my colleagues work with MoJo (Mobile Journalism) and all of their work is done with the help of their mobiles. With the help of mobile internet, they are able to send the data. But when the internet is shut down, we can't do that," adds Khalid.

A few days ago, when the judgment on the Yasin Malik case came in Delhi, we were covering the shutdown here. We had pitched the story (with a media house) and in the evening, mobile internet was snapped. We couldn't file the story. We couldn't respond to their messages. They might have thought of us as unprofessional. These are the kind of challenges we have to face and this isn't the first time we are facing this. Earlier also, we have faced the challenge of the internet getting shut down several times.

Wasim Nabi, freelance multimedia journalist, from Kashmir

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

When you are a freelancer doing a story, you always have to think what stories you can do. You have to think about it two-three times as you don't want to get into any kind of trouble.

(Najmus Saquib and Wasim Nabi are freelance journalists from Kashmir.)

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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