Indian-administered Kashmir

When Journalism Becomes a Crime

A monthly column featuring stories of conflict, survival and media representation from Indian-administered Kashmir.

SRINAGAR, INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR — I have been wanting to visit the southern part of Jammu and Kashmir, the state where I work as a journalist.

There are many stories in that region that aren’t being told. Many young men there are joining the anti-government movement. I’ve been wanting to talk to families there about the rising and seemingly unending tide of violence.

But these days, working as a journalist feels like a crime.

It’s not new for journalists here to face threats, arrest and even assassination for reporting on the complex politics of this place. But recently, the consequences of reporting on the militant forces fighting against Indian rule have been made clear to any journalist considering such stories.

On Sept. 1, Asif Sultan, a local magazine journalist, was arrested two months after his article “The Rise of Burhan” suggested that the assassination of militant commander Burhan Wani has led young people to join anti-government efforts. Violence has increased here since Wani’s death in 2016. The article quoted some of Wani’s associates for the first time since the leader was killed nearly two years ago.

Sultan was arrested on charges of anti-government activity, a charge that many are protesting. He appeared at a recent hearing wearing a T-shirt that read “Journalism is not a crime.”

But it feels as though it is.

At Global Press Journal, my job is to tell the world what is happening here, but it is a constant negotiation between reporting and the dangerous repercussions of doing so. I’ve been a bit quieter on GPJ lately. Now you know why.