Voices of Freedom: Kashmiri Media Speak Out After 5-Day Blackout
After five days the media blackout in the Kashmir valley was lifted and local newspapers were back on the stands on Thursday. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met editors and owners of city-based newspapers and expressed regret over restrictions on the media.
After nearly a week of clampdown, here’s how the local Kashmir newspapers are voicing themselves.
English daily Rising Kashmir minced no words in calling out the government on the ‘Internet Ban’ which is still imposed in the valley.
Government in a worst form of crackdown which defies logic and says more about autocratic means has banned the internet and the mobile networks across Kashmir. The blockade is the worst and has come when New Delhi has been championing the cause of digital democracy and the digital outreach. The internet blockade has ensured many things for the state: young men have not been able to give vent to the rage on the social networking sites and the state officials and the politicians have continued to see the situation through their own leanings.An excerpt from Rising Kashmir.
With an enthusiastic headline, the Kashmir Observer announced that they were back in circulation.
The newspaper also didn’t hold back on critiquing the government and the implications of its actions in the Valley.
For twelve consecutive days after the mass protests broke out following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in a controversial encounter with security forces, Kashmir has been under a strict 24X7 curfew. And with every day, rather than offer some relaxation to the more than 7 million people under an unprecedented lockdown, the government is only further toughening the security measures.An excerpt from Kashmir Observer, “Lift the Siege”
In a scathing piece titled ‘No Lessons Learnt’, the Kashmir Times called out Home Minister Rajnath Singh on what it thought were empty promises.
During the parliamentary debate on Kashmir, union home minister Rajnath Singh’s response of assurance of opening channels of dialogue with youth in Kashmir after calm returns, should have sounded promising and ought to have imbued hope. Only it doesn’t. The answer to the why of it is not difficult to seek. In fact, there are several reasons.An excerpt from Kashmir Times, “No Lessons Learnt”
The article goes on to talk about the us of “non-lethal” metal pellets in the Valley.
Incidents of violence and street protests in recent years bear testimony to the fact that it is not only the kind of weapons used in combating protesting mobs that can be defined as lethal or non-lethal, it is also about the way they are used, without adequate training and with a vengeance. The pellet guns and chilly sprays were introduced by the government in 2010 and called ‘non-lethal’. Only they did not turn out to be as non-lethal as the government wanted people to believe.
The Greater Kashmir quoted an official government statement to illustrate Mufti’s regrets about the media gag.
An official statement said: “Though there has been no deliberate attempt on part of the government to impose any restrictions on the publication of newspapers, however, whatever has happened, because of some communication gap, is regrettable and it will be looked into.”An excerpt from Greater Kashmir
It was unprecedented. It was outrageous. The raid on Greater Kashmir Printing Press at Rangreth during the dead of the night of past Friday — and subsequent raids on some other newspaper printing presses — wasn’t only about gagging press in a blatant show of State’s power and might in the form of its police force... it was about brazen disregard to the Fourth Estate which has been functioning in the State in trying circumstances.An excerpt from Greater Kashmir, ‘No gag is civilised’