A team consisting of noted economist Jean Dreze, activist Kavitha Krishnan, Maimoona Mollah and Vimalbhai were denied permission by the Press Club of India on 14 August 2019, to screen photos and videos they recorded during their visit to Kashmir. The team were set to present a report along with photo and video documentation, based on their five-day visit to J&K after the government announced abrogation of Article 370. The film, titled “Kashmir Caged,” was later released on YouTube.
“Permission for a 10-minute film was denied by Press Club of India and will be circulated later,” Jean Dreze said at the press conference.
Watch the full press conference here.
Responding to a question on the Press Club of India’s denial of permission, Krishnan said that the Press Club authorities informally told them that they were under “surveillance and pressure” to stall the screening.
"The Press Club told us we can't use the projector. Privately they told us, that there is also surveillance here and they are under pressure. If we can't show what's happening in the Press Club, then where can we show?" she said.
Report Observes Anger; Demands Removal of Gag on Communication
The report released by the team is titled “Kashmir Caged” and states that during their five-day visit to Kashmir, they observed “intense and virtually unanimous anger” against the government’s announcement to abrogate Article 370. A man from Safakadal in downtown Srinagar is quoted in the report as saying, “The Government has treated us Kashmiris like slaves, taking decisions about our lives and our future while we are captive.”
The report also observes that there is widespread anger against the Indian media. In conclusion, on behalf of the authors, the report demands immediate restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A and the restoration of communication in the state.
On the issue of protests, the report observes that 10,000 people protested in Soura (Srinagar) on 9 August 2019. The team spoke to two victims of pellet gun injuries in SMHS hospital in Srinagar.
The report also observes the gag on Kashmiri media, with a journalist being quoted, “This is undeclared censorship. If the government is giving internet and phone connectivity to police but not to media houses what does it mean?”
The team also met BJP spokesperson on Kashmiri Affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo at the office of Rising Kashmir, a Kashmir newspaper. However, the meeting ended with Chungroo calling Jean Dreze an “anti-national.”
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