With No Internet, Kashmir Journalist Forced to Work as Labourer

Ever since the internet services in Kashmir, many journalists have been forced to take up odd jobs.

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“After two months (of internet shutdown) when the condition got worse, I was forced to take this decision to work as a (daily wage) labourer.”
Muneeb-Ul-Islam, photojournalist

Ever since the suspension of internet services in Kashmir, photojournalist Muneeb-Ul-Islam has been forced to work as a daily-wage labourer.

“I’ve been working as a photographer forthe past 10 years from South Kashmir. Since the conditions worsened after 5 August (abrogation of Article 370), the financial condition at home kept getting worse. I didn’t have any money. There were several expenses at home, so I took this route and for a few days I worked as a labourer,” Muneeb said.

An elderly man votes in Lok Sabha elections 2019 in Kulgam district.
An elderly man votes in Lok Sabha elections 2019 in Kulgam district.
(Photo: Muneeb Ul Islam/The Quint)

A resident of Anantnag district in Kashmir, Muneeb has been working as a freelance photo-journalist in the Valley and contributing to many media agencies and newsrooms internationally and within India, including The Quint.

A boy who got injured during clashes with security forces in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections.
A boy who got injured during clashes with security forces in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections.
(Photo: Muneeb Ul Islam/The Quint)

‘No Internet For Reporters At Media Centre’

Muneeb told The Quint that there were no internet services for journalists. “There is a media centre in Srinagar but it used to cost Rs 1,500 per day to reach there. The expense was high and we couldn’t afford it. Additionally, the office doesn’t pay that much to cover the cost.”

He said all district reporters from Anantnag, Pulwama to Shopian and Kulgam are facing similar issues.

Foot-marks on a white expanse of snow in Kashmir.
Foot-marks on a white expanse of snow in Kashmir.
(Photo: Muneeb Ul Islam/The Quint)

‘No Improvement in Situation’

Muneeb said internet services continue to be shut in Kashmir, he adds, that there is no lockdown. “The civil transport is working because of which I can go to Srinagar’s media centre and send my stories whenever I have to,” he said.

“They treated us as if we, the media persons, are responsible for everything (happening in Kashmir). Just like they’ve locked up politicians, they locked us up too, as if we are responsible for this,” Muneeb told The Quint.

File photo of Tral encounter in May 2019
File photo of Tral encounter in May 2019
(Photo: Muneeb Ul Islam/The Quint)

Muneeb said the government should provide journalists a conducive environment to work in. “Just like there’s a media centre in Srinagar, there should be media centres in all the districts, so that we can restart our day-to-day work otherwise I will again have to engage in labour work.”

(With inputs from Hilal Shah.)

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