Where are the voices from Kashmir, wonder editors

An editor, with years of reporting from conflict zones behind him, calls the total black out of Srinagar dateline stories as ‘unprecedented’, recalling how he could always send copies from ground zero

Curfew has been clamped in the Valley since Sunday night, hours before government announced bifurcation of J&K and scrapping Article 370 on Monday morning. (PTI file photo).
Curfew has been clamped in the Valley since Sunday night, hours before government announced bifurcation of JK and scrapping Article 370 on Monday morning. (PTI file photo).
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NH Web Desk

Curfew has been clamped in the Valley since Sunday night, hours before government announced bifurcation of J&K and scrapping Article 370 on Monday morning. With internet and phone lines snapped, there has been no communication to or from J&K. There are only fears and apprehensions, with nobody knowing what is happening in the “open-air” prison that Kashmir has been converted into.

Amit Baruah, Resident Editor of The Hindu, calls the total black out of Srinagar dateline stories from papers as ‘unprecedented’, recalling how he could always send across reports from ground zero amid raging conflicts.

The paper’s former editor Malini Parthasarathy rued that The Hindu was not able to “independently report the ground reality in Kashmir” despite having a reporter there because of the communications shut-off.

In a series of tweets, Baruah said: “I reported for The Hindu and Frontline under the most trying circumstances intermittently from Kashmir between December 1989 to February 1995. I always managed to land my story. But today it's so sad to see that there are no Srinagar datelined stories in our papers.”

“There was curfew, shootings, kidnappings, murders. But every time -- tough as it was -- the story landed and was used. And, a reminder: we had phones, telex machines and the occasional fax facility. And, it was the CTO (Central Telegraph Office) where we went to file. Today, all communications are personal, but everything has been shut down by the government. Unprecedented!” he added.

Malini Parthasarathy tweeted: "It’s very unfortunate that our Srinagar correspondent @peerashiq has not been able to file reports from the ground because of the communications shut-off. We aren’t able to independently report the ground reality in Kashmir, despite having a reporter there!"

Michael Kugelman, South Asia Senior Associate, The Wilson Center, a non-partisan forum for global issues, said in a tweet that the voices of those who are most affected by the government's decision on Kashmir has not been heard even after 24 hours of the announcement to scrap Article 370.

"How sad that nearly 24 hours after India made a monumental decision about Kashmir, the voices of those most affected by that decision -- Kashmiris -- haven't been heard, because so many of them are under a communication blackout imposed by the ongoing security lockdown,” Kugelman said.

Indian Express correspondent Somya Lakhani too wondered as to why amid the cacophony of opinions by experts and lawmakers to journalists and commoners, there were no voices from Kashmir.

Experts, panelists, intellectuals, editors and reporters, common man, you and I -- all have spoken, written, debated, argued. From Delhi. Voices from the Valley? Missing from our studios, Page 1s, special pages, Edits. A day after, all reports

Former JNU students union leader Shehla Rashid, who hails from Kahsmir, expressed concern over the well-being of her family -- a fear pervading through the Kashmiris across the globe who are heading home for Eid-al-Adha.

“It has been close to 40 hours since we last spoke to folks back home. Terribly homesick and unaware of their whereabouts and safety. People are travelling back home from abroad and other states for Eid, but they are not sure how to go back,” Rashid said in a tweet.

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