Kashmir video: Press Club of India disallows screening

A man and a woman walk in a street during curfew like restrictions following abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, in Srinagar. PTI photo

The Press Club of India on Wednesday “under pressure” refused permission to a fact-finding team, which visited Jammu and Kashmir, to screen a video and display photographs from the troubled state, which they said has now turned into a "prison under military control". 

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A team of four — economist Jean Dreze, CPI(ML)'s Kavita Krishnan, AIDWA's Maimoona Mollah and NAPM's Vimal Bhai — was in Srinagar and other towns, which is in an "unprecedented" lock-down after scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, between August 9 and 13 and returned to Delhi on Tuesday.

The report 'Kashmir Caged' said, "the whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control" and the decisions on Kashmir as well as the means adopted by the Narendra Modi government to "hold Kashmiris captive and suppress potential protests" are "immoral, unconstitutional and illegal".

Though the team presented the report and held a press conference, they said the Press Club officials informed them in the morning that they are not allowed to screen their 9: 34-minute video or use a projector to display photographs taken from Jammu and Kashmir. The activists later released the video and photographs online.

"We had prepared a very short, simple film. Unfortunately, we cannot screen it here. We have been refused permission. It is a tragedy. If we cannot show it in Press Club of India, where else we can show this. Already, we can anticipate that screening of this video will not be allowed in other Press Clubs or universities," Dreze told reporters.

Krishnan said, "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?"

A Press Club office-bearer said they have been under the scanner for providing platforms for groups critical of the government. "There are attempts to silence the Club. We have not diluted our stand. But the situations are different. We have to have different strategies. If there was a video screening, it could have given a handle to authorities. Now, at least we can give a platform to diverse groups. We want to remain so," the office-bearer said.

Addressing the press conference, Krishnan said the ground reality is “very different” from what is being projected. “It is said all is well. But it is more apt to say that all is hell there. There is no way to express people's anger. There is virtually unanimous anger in the valley against the government,” she said.

Mollah said people feel humiliated and angry and their refrain is that they should be allowed to express their anger. “If you do the same to Bihar or Tamil Nadu, what will the public do? People will say it is dictatorship. What is dictatorship in Bihar and Bihar, won't it be a dictatorship in Kashmir?” she asked.

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