Flattening the Curve of Truth; World Press Freedom Day in Kashmir*

*Follow the line or be booked for sedition, that is the clear message of the Indian state while dealing with journalists in Kashmir. From cutting advertisements for daily newspapers and choking their finances, to banning news portals online, to detaining and physically torturing journalists, the Government of India has left no stone unturned to not let truth be spoken to the powers that be.

“The curve of criticism was completely flattened on 5 August 2019, when New Delhi locked down Kashmir and snapped all its communications as it abrogated the region’s limited autonomy and statehood”, writes Rayan Naqash, an independent journalist. Many news portals post 5th August had to shut down just because of the restrictions they were put under, making it difficult to get their work done; all of this while Indian national media were sending their correspondents to report from 'the ground'. Not a surprise that many such ground reports were pure white lies and a smokescreen to the reality.

The Indian Government has been using both coercion and intimidation to keep Kashmiri journalists a step behind. In Anjum Habib’s words -
"Whenever a Kashmiri is caught, the Indian mainstream media labels them a terrorist. When I was imprisoned, the media declared that a traitor had been captured. The media presents a social activist or a political activist or a human rights activist as a terrorist."

On the World Press Freedom Day, let's remember media workers & journalists who were killed in Jammu & Kashmir since 1990:

August 29, 1994, Ghulam Muhammad Lone, killed in Kangan

September 10, 1995, Mushtaq Ali, killed in Srinagar

April 10, 1996, Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, killed in Pampore

January 01, 1997, Altaf Ahmed Faktoo, killed in Srinagar

March 16, 1997, Saidan Shafi, killed in Srinagar

January 31, 2003, Parvaz Mohammed Sultan, killed in Srinagar

April 20, 2004, Aasia Jeelani, killed in Lolab, Kupwara

May 11, 2008, Ashok Sodhi, killed in Samba

August 13, 2008, Javed Ahmed Mir, killed in Srinagar

June 14, 2018, Shujaat Bukhari, killed in Srinagar

Data compiled by Committee to Protect Journalists, New York.

The outrage at the so-called 'weaponizing of social media' is quite ridiculous, especially coming from a government that has used all forms of media and all tools of propaganda to justify its occupation of Kashmir. Maybe the outrage is at the fact that social media allows the Kashmiris to fight back against the onslaught of the much more powerful Indian state which had a tight grip on all traditional forms of media and thus on all narratives emanating from Kashmir. Social media, by virtue of it being more accessible, makes it easier to broadcast local narratives, a quality that has annoyed tyrannical governments all over the world.

Source: 1) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10158729678918352&id=675103351
2) https://thekashmirwalla.com/2020/05/journalism-under-jackboot-patrolling-internet/-