National News

Major crackdown on media in Kashmir: Police raid newspaper offices, block cable TV

No publication – English, Urdu or Kashmiri – was available in the Valley, while the unrest continued for the eighth consecutive day.

Local newspapers in curfew-bound Kashmir valley failed to hit the stands on Saturday as authorities allegedly raided some media offices and detained a few of their employees while seizing the printed copies, reported PTI.

Publishers of major Urdu and English newspapers in Kashmir said police conducted a midnight raid at the printing presses. While most newspapers working out of Srinagar couldn't go to print, copies of those who had printed their editions were seized at midnight and in early morning raids, reported IANS. As a result, newspapers – English, Urdu or Kashmiri – saw no circulation in the Valley.

Cellphone and internet services remain disabled in large parts of Kashmir. All telecom operators had been asked to suspend services in the Valley on Friday. Cable TV operations were also suspended the same evening, but restored later on Saturday. The only mobile service functional in the valley is Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, and the only internet connectivity is the BSNL broadband service, IANS reported.

Targeting the press

"Policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir and more than 50,000 printed copies of [Urdu daily] Kashmir Uzma and closed down the printing press," a Greater Kashmir report said.

Printing press KT Press, which prints many newspapers, was also raided and shut down, its owner Raja Mohi ud Din was quoted as saying in a report on Kashmir Life. Police seized "newspaper copies which were printed in thousands, besides printing material, and printing plates of a few newspapers...also have been taken away by police,” he claimed, adding that his staff were detained by police.

KT press prints Kashmir Reader, Tameel-e-Irshad, Kashmir Times, Kashmir Observer, The Kashmir Monitor, Brighter Kashmir, Mission Kashmir andKashmir Age.

Another English daily, Kashmir Reader, also made similar claims.

The printing facility of Kashmir Images at SIDCO Industrial Estate Shalteng, Srinagar was also targeted, said its editor Bashir Manzar in a Facebook post. He said a posse of policemen claiming to be from nearby Parimpora Police Station came to the press around 2 am "and took away copies of this and other newspapers that were being published at the facility, besides some printing material".

The policemen told the staff "not to publish any newspaper for next three days,” Manzar said in his post.

Targeting distribution

After the printing presses, the next target was distribution of newspapers.

"We were readying to distribute the newspaper that police men from Budgam police station seized the newspaper copies,” a staff member of the Rising Kashmir was quoted as saying by the Kashmir Life.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Janta Agencies opposite to Government Women’s College at MA Road where a police jeep from Kothibagh Police Station was positioned against the major newspaper distributing agency, reported the website.

“Daily Aftab and a few other newspapers were seized from here,” a hawker told the Kashmir Life, “police didn’t allow us to take newspapers.”

Hawkers were seen waiting near Lambert Lane near Regal Chowk, another major newspaper distributing hub. The policemen suddenly stopped their jeep at the spot and searched for the newspapers, the Kashmir Life said.

Only those newspapers which had escaped the police scanner, or had not reached the distribution point at the time of raid, escaped confiscation and may have subsequently reached some readers, Manzar said.

Uneasy calm

Meanwhile, the toll climbed to 39 on Saturday, after two more people were killed in clashes, as tension prevailed in the Valley for the eighth day following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8. Cable TV and mobile internet services remained suspended in the region, NDTV reported.

Curfew continued in 10 districts, with incidents of stone-pelting and clashes reported from seven districts across north, south and central Kashmir that left scores of people injured, reported the Indian Express.

The External Affairs Ministry hit out at Pakistan on Friday for glorifying terrorists. Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, "We are dismayed at the continued attempts by Pakistan to interfere in our internal matters, where, we reiterate, Pakistan or any other external party has no locus standi."

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that his country will observe July 19 as a ‘Black Day’ to protest against the killing of Wani and the violence that followed. India asked Pakistan to desist from interfering in its internal affairs. The Bharatiya Janata Party also took a dig at Pakistan and asked them to observe ‘Black Year’ for breeding terrorism. Party leader Nalin Kohli said Pakistan is trying to gain political mileage out of the crisis.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

Play

During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.