Journalists in Kashmir face serious challenges to their livelihoods as India has rolled out a new media policy that threatens to pull advertisement from publications whose reporting is deemed “anti-India”.
Qisar Mir, 22, a photojournalist from Pulwama makes a living taking video and photos of skirmishes – mortar shells, corpses, burning houses. Now a decree from Indian government threatens to doom already fraught careers of Mir and more than 200 other photojournalists in the contested region.
International watchdog group released its World Press Freedom Index 2021. It called situation in Kashmir “very worrying,” adding that “reporters are often harassed by police and paramilitaries “ in the region. Indian government is sensitive about reporting on Kahsmir, where its forces have been accused of serious human rights violations.
Vijay Kumar, India’s top police official, at a news conference said the decision to impose restrictions on media setmmed from concerns that “bullets can strike journalists” when gunbattles are underway. The new prohibitions, which Editors Guild of India last week called “draconian and undemocratic,” have left hundreds of journalists.
Peerada Waseem, 26, a video journalist from Sopore, North Kashmir whose work has featured in Jewish Currents magazine, said his camera has been “rusting” inside his closet because he is scared to venture to the scene of protests or gunfights, fearing police action. The effects of the media clampdown are starting to show.
Journalists in Kashmir are increasingly turning away from the profession, contemplating switching to other jobs.