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AP team defies lockdown to report in all formats from Kashmir

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The Sriningar team of reporter Aijaz Hussain, photographers Yasin Dar and Mukhtar Khan, and video journalists Meraj Ud-din and Umar Meraj, joined by New Delhi reporter Sheikh Saaliq, has braved security restrictions and overcome a complete communication lockdown to report in all formats on life under siege from Indian-administered Kashmir.

When New Delhi moved Aug. 5 to revoke the Himalayan region of its statehood, all lines to the outside world were severed. Before the curfew began, Hussain scrambled to get prescription medication for his mother – and then rushed to the office with the photo and video team. They stayed in the office overnight but transmission in any format was a challenge. Defying the crackdown on movement and filming, the team managed to send photos, video and text with a passenger on a flight to Delhi.

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Kashmiri women shout slogans and march on a street after Friday prayers in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Aug. 9, 2019. A strict curfew in Indian-administered Kashmir in effect for a fifth day was eased Friday to allow residents to pray at mosques, officials said, but some protests still broke out in the disputed region despite thousands of security forces in the streets. – AP Photo / Dar Yasin

Meanwhile, New Dehi-based Saaliq made a daylong reporting trip to Srinagar. A native Kashmiri himself, he spoke to people struggling to buy necessities and to those injured during sporadic protests. His story, some of which he dictated over the phone from a Srinagar hotel, was one of the first reports in the international media that allowed Kashmiri voices to be heard after the dramatic events. Hussain followed with personal stories of how Kashmiris were coping with life surrounded by armed police and paramilitary soldiers. And with short windows of internet access and many trips to the airport, the AP team managed to get words and images of thousands of protesters, including a widely used photo of a group of women marching after Friday prayers and security forces patrolling the city.

Information blackouts are nothing new for Kashmiris but having no landline phones has intensified hardship for both local residents and journalists. The lockdown continues. While some local media have suggested normalcy has returned to Kashmir, AP is offer a critical counternarrative grounded in dogged reporting to show the world what is happening in the disputed region.

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