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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Amid curbs in Kashmir Valley, journalists find new ways to report

Some journalists managed to use the internet connections of top officials they were acquainted with. In the first few days after August 5, there was patchy internet connectivity in areas close to Srinagar airport, but that was snapped after news filtered out that local journalists were filing stories from those spots.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2019 07:36 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmiri boys cycle in an empty street during restrictions after the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir. Many Indian publications (including HT) parachuted journalists into the region who filed stories on their return.
Kashmiri boys cycle in an empty street during restrictions after the scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir. Many Indian publications (including HT) parachuted journalists into the region who filed stories on their return. (Reuters)
         

For journalists reporting from Jammu and Kashmir after Article 370 was scrapped last week, dispatching stories without Internet, mobile phone or land line connectivity has proved a challenge.

“We are back to the Stone Age in Kashmir. But we managed to file stories without fail,” said Muzaffar Raina, a journalist for a Kolkata daily.

For some journalists, things were tougher than for others, he added.

Foreign journalists, for instance, “airdropped” their stories back to Delhi using human couriers, or simply flew back and forth.

Many Indian publications (including HT) parachuted journalists into the region who filed stories on their return.

But many journalists, including those who work in HT’s bureau in Srinagar, took the help of colleagues and friends in the electronic media, piggybacking their networks, sometimes even making videos of their reports and using OB vans to dispatch them to offices in Delhi.

Peerzada Ashiq, who works for a national news paper, said he made a video of his story on Friday to send it across. “I wrote the story on my laptop and then shot a video of the text, which was sent via an OB. The TV channel’s office in Srinagar sent it to its office in Delhi, which then mailed the video to my office,” he said.

When the information blockade was clamped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, the day the Centre scrapped the region’s special status and carved it into two Union territories, only a few TV channels with OB vans could report from the ground. Practically no print journalist of any national or international daily could file stories that day.

Anticipating a backlash in Kashmir valley, thousands of security personnel were out on the roads. To enforce a total communication blockade, all mobile and landline phones and internet facilities were suspended.

“It was a shock and very difficult for Kashmiri journalists. We had to remain journalists in these hard times and tell our stories,” said Riyaz Masroor, who works with a foreign broadcast media company.

“For the first three days, we were running to the airport to hand over our pen drives to strangers, not knowing whether they would reach office or not. Then we asked the office to dedicate a staffer who would land in Srinagar at 2pm and take the material by 5.30pm in hard drives every day,” he added.

Some journalists managed to use the internet connections of top officials they were acquainted with. In the first few days after August 5, there was patchy internet connectivity in areas close to Srinagar airport, but that was snapped after news filtered out that local journalists were filing stories from those spots.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 23:21 IST

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