The Listening Post

The rise of Kashmir’s alternative media

Despite strict media controls a host of new voices is emerging from Kashmir.

The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has been a flashpoint on the sub-continent for more than six decades. It is a heavily militarised zone, with more than half a million troops stationed there. Despite the ongoing conflict, it receives little or no media attention.

The climate for local journalists is poor: they work under strict curfews, internet access is sporadic and text messaging services are regularly cut off. But anti-Indian protests in 2010 sparked a change in the media landscape.

For the first time, a host of new voices were heard and since then Kashmiri bloggers, filmmakers and authors have taken their stories to India, Pakistan and beyond. In this week’s feature, the Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi looks at the rise of Kashmir’s alternative media voices.

“There is this massive uprising against Indian rule in Kashmir, and lots of people, mostly young people, are killed on the streets of Kashmir. And, at the same time there were huge curbs on media in Kashmir. Newspapers don’t go to press, local TV channels are taken off. There’s a ban on text messaging, even journalists who go to report are beaten up on the streets.  

So in that environment and space a fascinating thing happens, all these young people, without a formal structure converge, and there’s this almost near explosion of new media activity in 2010.”

Mirza Waheed, the author of The Collaborator