Junaid Bhat: Kashmirs Photojournalist Narrates How Reporting in Kashmir feels amidst Lockdown
On 5th August 2019, the Government revoked the special status, or limited autonomy, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir and after that Mobile phone services, broadband facilities, landline phones, and Cable TV operations were blocked as authorities feared widespread protests and uprisings.
In these tough times, a photojournalist from North Kashmir's Sopore, Junaid Bhat, decided to work for the betterment of this situation
I put myself at risk many times because I always believe that people here in Kashmir trust us with their stories and it is heartbreaking to let them down. So, I continued to report and file stories relentlessly. While the Internet and mobile phone services were completely suspended in the region, I had to stay outside Kashmir almost for three months post-Article-370 abrogation. The people especially students who were staying outside the state were cut off from their families, facing a cash crunch as they were completely disconnected from their families here in Kashmir due to the blanket ban imposed by authorities on all modes of communication. Hundreds of them returned to the valley after they lost contact with their families, those who decided to stay on found sustenance difficult.
Junaid Bhat To the Rescue:
While I kept filing stories and reports, I met a lot of Kashmiri students in different parts of country who were helpless and desperate to contact their families back in Kashmir.
I received many request from students for help and I helped some of them according to my capacity. Mostly I used to forward the requests of monetary issues to many NGOs like Khalsa Aid which helped many people across India especially in the Punjab region which is considered to be the second home to Kashmiri students.