The news from Kashmir continues to be grim. We hear of a “page being turned”. But where? Pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra are shot dead. Elsewhere in the Valley, young men and women die as militants or in the crossfire. On the border, the 2003 ceasefire has been dead for a year. Soldiers die with regularity; families living close to the border also suffer.

To add to this man-made strife, we have tragic accidents. A bus of pilgrims plunges into a gorge and a dozen people die.

The headlines convey the violence and the deaths in that troubled Valley. But how do people live their lives? How do they negotiate the tensions that have descended on the Valley and worsened over the past year? How do children go to schools? How do people earn their living amidst the countless curfews and shutdowns?

It is the job of journalism to go beyond the headlines and report on life in the towns and villages. Surprisingly, the national English media has forgotten this responsibility. It does report on all the headline events of shootings, sieges, shutdowns and deaths. But the media stops there. Important as it is to report this terrible and important news, there are people living amidst this strife and we need to know how they are coping. In the silence of the media, it is almost as if the Kashmiris do not exist as a people. Has the press also now come to see Kashmir as devoid of people and as little more than a piece of real estate to be held on to?

(I refer here to the silences of the print media. One has to forget about television. Indeed, there must be thousands of stories out there best told on TV. But we do not have to point out that most of the channels are now screaming channels more interested in whipping up hate. As this recent opinion piece in the Hindustan Times argued, “Indian TV Channels Must Stop Humiliating Kashmiris”.)

Going beyond the headlines

The exception that stands out in print and even on the web is The strength of this digital publication is the attention it gives to reporting. Whether it is on lynchings or on state violence in Chhattisgarh or on employers abusing domestic staff in Noida, has published reports from its correspondents that few other publications have.

A good example is this report by Shoaib Daniyal, which I think is the most comprehensive factual article on the communal violence in Basirhat, West Bengal, I have read at least in the English press.

This is in evidence in the reporting by’s correspondents on Kashmir too. Ever since the Valley erupted in violence last year after the death of militant leader Burhan Wani,’s correspondents – Ipsita Chakravarty and Rayan Naqash – have been out there in the field sending one despatch after another. There has been little of arm-chair analysis of India-Pakistan relations or the tensions between the Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the government. What we have got are raw reports, written I am sure often at considerable personal risk and also with anguish about what the reporters have seen.

There have been articles since mid-2016 on why young Kashmiris turn to violence and the like. But what I have read with interest are, for instance, articles about how people try to go about their daily routine. What do school children do when exams loom after months of closure? How do people access the Net when there is an official shutdown? What kind of Bakr Eid can it be when curfews and shutdowns prevent shepherds from bringing their goats to town and butchers from plying their trade?

Continuing with their high-quality reporting, the correspondents have in the past fortnight reported from South Kashmir – the new centre, it is believed, of militancy in the Valley. A series of articles looks, for instance, more closely at what happens to families whose sons disappear to join militant ranks or are killed in action by security forces. At the other end, one article looks at how the makers of the famed Kashmir willow bats are managing in these times of dislocation.

To be sure,’s correspondents are not oblivious to the larger picture like the changes in the forms of militancy that may be taking place after year in and year out of violence on all sides.

Stories that must be told

In these troubled times, the rest of the country needs to be told about the spirit of the Kashmiri people as well as the simultaneous attrition of this spirit. Kashmir is an immense tragedy and it is only the media that can tell us about the lives of the people out there. is doing its job. But there is more that lies ahead. And the rest of the media has to realise that its work does not end with reporting on the violence.

We need to know what the eyes of the children of Kashmir see as they grow up experiencing nothing but violence. How do apple farmers survive? How do lovers make their assignations in a time of shutdowns?

Visitors to Kashmir say that even when there is no violence or demonstrations, the streets of Srinagar are full of young men just hanging about – nothing to do, no recreation and no jobs. What is building up inside?

The tensions facing the security forces are no less. What kind of a life do the members of the paramilitary and armed forces imagine when they are stationed in Kashmir and live in protected camps? What about the unique insecurities of the members of the state police who have to live among the very communities they often have to put down?

The routinisation of the violence in Kashmir as represented in the headlines does not tell us what is happening behind that violence. Only the press can tell us that. is a lone reporter here, it needs to be joined by others.