The Telegraph – As fear grips Kashmir, newspapers turn voice of government

I don’t want to be a hero, says Kashmir editor

Muzaffar Raina

Srinagar – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 23 August 2019. The clampdown has forced the Valley’s newspapers to fall in line, their pages resembling government bulletins, reflecting the fear that has gripped the region.

The official versions of events receive wide publicity without questions being asked about their credibility.

Stories of sufferings and outrage find little space. Articles by writers sympathetic to the pro-independence cause have disappeared.

Traditionally, reports of rights violations by the security forces have been high on Valley newspapers’ priorities as they peddled a “pro-Kashmir” narrative. During every previous agitation, their tone only got shriller.

Not this time, though. There has been little or no criticism of the Centre’s move to abrogate the state’s special status, as reflected in Article 370 which most of the newspapers have defended fiercely in the past.

The editorials reflect anything but the ground situation. Several local newspapers have without a break carried as their lead story the evening media briefing by the government, inevitably painting a rosy picture of the situation.

A leading newspaper ran stories on health on two opinion pages on a single day.

“We are in the middle of an avalanche and I don’t want to be a hero,” the editor of an English periodical said, requesting anonymity.

“Three former chief ministers, along with many of their former ministerial colleagues, are in jail or under house arrest and a fourth is not being allowed to enter the state. If they (the government) have not spared them, will they spare us?”

Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been jailed while Farooq Abdullah is under house arrest. Ghulam Nabi Azad was twice “deported” in a fortnight after arriving in the state.

The Telegraph spoke to the editors of four newspapers and some local reporters, all but one among whom claimed there was an official gag on reporting.

One editor said the government had subtly told the media to “behave” but did not specify whether he was one of those who received the advisory. Because of the information blockade, officials could not be reached to verify the claim.

It looks more likely that the local media have succumbed to the general atmosphere of fear that had gripped Kashmir even before the revocation of its special status and has only intensified since.

“I contacted top government officers to find out whether there was any line they wanted us to toe. The officers told me they were as clueless as we were,” an editor and member of the Kashmir Editor’s Guild said.

Policy decisions about Kashmir are being taken at the highest level of the central government, and the state bureaucracy is religiously following the orders.

A correspondent with a leading daily said the reporters could see a lot of “stories” unfolding around them but could only watch helplessly.

“The critical pieces (against the government), if any, come from the news agencies rather than the (newspaper) reporters. We are being cautious. Our editor told us our very survival was under threat,” he said.

The local media has been hit like never before, with some newspapers having suspended publication altogether while others, including the largest circulated Greater Kashmir, reducing their number of pages.

On some days, they too suspend publication; on some others, they bring out only four pages against the earlier 12 or 16.

Anger is simmering at the one-sided coverage, and some national correspondents were roughed up recently. Journalists working for the local media say they too dread going out, fearing a possible backlash.

The government had clamped down on a section of the media ahead of the August 5 decision to scrap the state’s special status. This was followed by a suspension of Internet, mobile and landline services, making it difficult for local newspapers to operate.

In the weeks ahead of the decision, the National Investigation Agency had summoned and questioned Fayaz Kaloo and Haji Hayat, the editors of Greater Kashmir and the Kashmir Reader, at its Delhi headquarters over their publications’ reporting and alleged terror funding.

Geelani Qadri, editor of the Urdu daily Afaaq, was briefly arrested in a three-decade-old case.

A correspondent with the Kashmir Observer, a daily, too faced NIA questioning for interviewing an over-ground woman separatist leader.

Another correspondent with an English daily was arrested last week in south Kashmir and spent a day in a lock-up. Aasif Sultan, a correspondent with Narrator, a monthly, has been behind bars for months.

The Tribune – Flooding in Panjab: 2500 in 38 camps; enough food but no facilities

Sardarwala/Mundi Chohlian – Panjab – India, 22 August 2019. With over 38 camps in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts sheltering nearly 2500 persons, the camps which have one doctor on an average face lack of tarpaulins and mattresses with displaced people sleeping on floors, in classrooms or in open, at night.

Though langar is aplenty, they face lack of medicines and other amenities such as soap, oil, brushes, clothes etc.

In Jalandhar, 1025 persons have been housed at eight camps in Shahkot, of which one closed today after being flooded, 751 have been housed in 18 camps at Phillaur and in Kapurthala 600 were housed in six camps (all of which will be shut tomorrow onwards).

The Kapurthala administration said it would now send special relief teams. At least two camps in Kapurthala and one primary camp in Jalandhar at the Nahal village were shut after being flooded.

Many people are putting up at gurdwaras and homes of do-gooders.

Nearly 500 persons displaced in Lohian have been housed at the relief camp at Lohian Khas alone. The camp has people from 10 villages. With the Nahal village camp shut today, all have been shifted to Government Senior Secondary School in Lohian Khas, which is now overcrowded.

SDO Khushman Preet Singh, who is the camp incharge, said: “We have 468 persons of whom 28 joined today. We have enough food but other amenities are not sufficient. We have asked volunteers and NGOs to provide more.”

Gentbrugge: Gentbrugse Meersen

Gentbrugse Meersen
14 August 2019

Vlierbessen – Elderberries

Evi/Pyar Kaur getting a bit nearer to the Braemstraat

Inspecting the Boerenwormkruid – Tansy

Rozenbottels – Rosehips

Leeuwebekjes – Snapdragons

I know of which family these flowers are,
but I do not know which particular plant this is

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

NDTV – Dalai Lama to be invited for Guru Nanak’s Birth anniversary: Minister

Sukhjinder Randhawa also said a Panjab government’s delegation is awaiting the Centre’s nod to visit Pakistan later this month to assess the progress of the Kartarpur Corridor project.

Chandighar – Panjab – India, 23 August 2019. Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will be among a host of dignitaries who will be invited to join the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, Panjab Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said on Friday.

Mr Randhawa also said a Panjab government’s delegation is awaiting the Centre’s nod to visit Pakistan later this month to assess the progress of the Kartarpur Corridor project.

He said the Panjab delegation of state ministers and MLAs are also supposed to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and the chief minister of the Punjab province of the neighbouring country.

In an informal interaction with reporters, Mr Randhawa said the Dalai Lama, 83, a globally revered figure and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, will be among a host of religious and spiritual leaders who will be invited to join the celebrations in November.

“The Dalai Lama has been requested to join the celebrations. Besides, other top religious leaders from various faiths will also be invited,” he said.

Asked how soon will the Punjab government delegation visit Pakistan, Mr Randhawa replied, “As soon as our government gives us the permission. The day we get permission from the Centre we will go.”

Commenting on the ongoing work on the Kartapur Corridor, Mr Randhawa said, “The work is still slow on our side. I had met secretary, Border Management in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and told him that we need to speed up work on our side. He assured that manpower will be doubled and work will be expedited.”

In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur Corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being constructed by India.

The corridor will be opened in November on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

The Hindu – Ready to open Kartarpur Corridor, says Pakistan

Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead, says Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 23 August 2019. Pakistan on Friday said that despite tensions with India, it stands ready to open the Kartarpur Corridor and welcome the Sikh pilgrims to take part in celebrations in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said this while speaking to a delegation of civil society and parliamentarians of Afghanistan, which is currently visiting Pakistan for the ‘Track-II dialogue, Beyond Boundaries’

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5.

“Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead with Kartarpur Corridor and we stand ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak,” Mr. Qureshi told the delegation.

Connecting Karturpur with Gurdaspur

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India.

Mr Qureshi also told the delegation that current tension with India will not affect Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan. Border (with Afghanistan) will not be closed nor trade will stop.

“Despite tensions with India, Pakistan is totally focused on the situation and its role in Afghanistan. It (Kashmir situation) can be a huge distraction but we are very clear what we need to do in Afghanistan”, he added while responding to a question if escalation of tension with India can distract Pakistan.

Mr Qureshi told the delegation that he had invited the Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s and China for a trilateral meeting. The Foreign Minister will come to Pakistan in the first week of September for the talks, he added.