Thursday, 20 January, 2022
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In Valley, angry Kashmiris have a target — the media projecting ‘normalcy’ in J&K

People manhandling TV reporters, threatening photographers and stopping taxis to check if they are carrying journalists is a common sight in Srinagar.

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Srinagar: There is one entity in Kashmir that is facing the brunt of the people’s wrath more than the security forces — the media. The reason: A perception about the media projecting the Valley as returning to normalcy about a fortnight after the nullification of Article 370.

People manhandling TV reporters, threatening photographers for taking pictures and stopping taxis to check if they are carrying journalists is a common sight in Srinagar. ThePrint photographer was mobbed Thursday evening when he was trying to take pictures of vegetable sellers and people selling essential items from half-shut shops when the indefinite ‘civilian curfew’ — shutdown of the city in protest against the security clampdown — was on.

“Nothing is normal here. You will see what happens when the security is relaxed. Except for NDTV, Al Jazeera and BBC, all channels are behaving like propaganda organisations,” said Firdaus, a resident of Sonwar in Srinagar.

He cited the “strong protests” (incidents of stone-pelting) by the people in downtown Srinagar after namaaz on Friday to drive his point home.

Uneasy calm in the Valley

As it is, the security clampdown, communication restrictions, arrests of suspected trouble-makers and other contingency measures have resulted in relative peace and uneasy calm in the Valley that is intermittently broken by incidents of stone-pelting and minor clashes from different parts.

About 1,500 people, including 150 politicians and over 800 overground workers or OGWs — who provide logistics to militants and instigate protests and unrest — have been arrested in the Valley since the Centre’s decision to scrap Article 370 early this month, according to officials in the security establishment.

They said there have been 300 incidents of stone-pelting across the Valley since 5 August when the Modi government made its decision public. But, they added, only 20-25 people are involved in each of these incidents and security forces have been instructed not to be high-handed in their approach.

A senior paramilitary force official told ThePrint that there were strict instructions to behave well with residents and not look or sound insulting or even condescending in any manner.

“We have clearly conveyed that even if some people pelt stones at our pickets, don’t get provoked,” he said. “Let the people vent their anger. But, you (forces) are free to use all means if there is any threat to your lives.”


Also read: As Kashmir lockdown throttles militants, they move to villages looking to ‘recruit’


‘Situation relatively under control’

Security officials see the prevailing situation as “relatively well under control”, citing the scale of violence after the killing of Burhan Wani.

“Around 40 people had died in just a week after Burhan’s killing and there was a curfew-like situation for the next four months,” said one official, adding how there have been no casualties among either civilians or security forces in the past over two weeks.

“There was one agitator who jumped into a river while running away from the forces and drowned. It was just an accident but even that was an exception.”

For newcomers in Srinagar, the tension and anger among people are quite palpable and hard to ignore. After 14 days, security restrictions were eased from 19 August and schools and government offices were opened.

Government officials claimed healthy attendance — up to 80 per cent — in offices but most schools remained deserted. The sight of men and women driving cars and scooters with children on the rear seats and pillions on Srinagar roads were comforting and reassuring to the security establishment.

On Friday, though, security restrictions were re-imposed in view of prayers and the call for protests outside the UN office in Srinagar. Posters calling for protests, attributed to separatist outfits, had appeared in parts of Srinagar Thursday evening. They are likely to be eased again.

Advertisements in local newspapers, however, indicated how the road to normalcy is quite a distance away. Many advertisements were about the cancellation of marriage parties in view of the situation in the Valley and one informed government servants about their attendance being mandatory.


Also read: Kashmir is shutting itself down with a ‘people’s curfew’ so Modi govt can’t say all’s well


 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Very typical behaviour of the followers of the religion of peace. They need to create trouble, and cannot tolerate peace.

  2. I never think, Trump will will comment Kashmir internal issues. They may discuss about stopping terrorism from border and may ask Pakistan to do more as today strictures on Pakistan on terror funding may leading to ban on Pakistan.

  3. Whatever is being done by Modi government in Kashmir is really admirable for Kashmiris, but unfortunately they know it, but do not want to agree to it because the rich of the Kashmiris have their children working in almost every state of India and even in foreign countries and the children and young boys and girls of the poor have been exploited in the name of religion to shout Azadi or Pakistan. Condition in every nook and corner of Kashmir is under control and the well meaning common people of Kashmir want peace which the so called political leaders and separatists will not allow them to have. May God save the poor people of Kashmir from exploitation.

  4. Benign neglect is what Kashmir needs from media. Take it or leave it should be the policy of union government towards Kashmir. Kashmiris will become indianised slowly over centuries. India should have patience.

  5. Very happy to read that the CAPF have been told to exercise utmost restraint. One clear reason is that the world is watching. Any large loss of life would be received very poorly. President Trump will be raising the issue of human rights in Kashmir, apart from the more expected question of India and Pakistan relations stepping back from the brink. A column in The Telegraph explains that the local media in Kashmir is completely drained of spirit.

    • Just to add to my earlier post and to clarify, the entire world is aware of the Jihadi propaganda and false narrative of victim hood. India is not bothered. Trump has lot of issues at hand in his own country to take care of.

      • I am honoured to be your namesake, although my heart tells me you use this name to create confusion. However, it would be dishonest to post your comment beneath mine and to claim that I am posting a supplement. Perhaps you could use a capital A, reflecting your status, which is superior to mine.

    • Telegraph and his sister paper Anandabazar, are always anti Modi. They want West Bengal to be open to illegal Bangladeshi Muslims. This will help ruling party to be in power for ever.

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