Kashmiri press torn between covering surgical strikes and valley shutdown
Kashmiri newspapers on Friday reflected the dilemma of the average Kashmiri - to be concerned more about the possible fallout of the Indian Army's cross-LoC surgical strikes, or the continuance of the shutdown in the valley?
The strikes were the top story in every newspaper, and related developments from both India and Pakistan were duly reported.
However, fresh clashes, arrests and reports of the 83rd day of the shutdown were also covered.
There were no editorials and opinion pieces on the strike in most newspapers.
"Conducted surgical strikes across LoC: Army" was the top story in Greater Kashmir. The approach was reporting the facts straight up. Also reported, separately, was Pakistan rejecting India's claim of the strike, of Pakistan killing eight Indian soldiers and capturing one, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saying support for Kashmiris will continue, India briefing envoys of 25 nations and J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's concern over the 'escalation on LoC'.
However, the local situation in the state was also duly reported, including reports of a 'complete shutdown' on 83rd consecutive day, four people sustaining injuries in clashes in Bandipora, and forces allegedly damaging apple harvest in a village in Pulwama.
"Army conducts 'surgical strikes' across LoC" was the main story in Rising Kashmir, with specific focus on putting surgical strikes within single quotes.
However, Pakistan's statements on the strikes were also covered prominently. "India's claim of surgical strikes fabrication of truth: Pakistan" said one report, while another report highlighted Sharif's statement that Pakistan was capable of defending itself.
The report on the shutdown in the state was a short one.
The coverage in Kashmir Observer was ahead of the others, with its main story saying "India prepares for possible Pak retaliation".
There were short reports on statements from Pakistan. Interestingly, also on the front page was an analysis by the newspaper that the attack was a 'limited probe' and not a surgical strike. The newspaper also asserted that the strike was more political than military.
Its report on the shutdown in the state said the situation was 'grim' and life was paralysed.
The top headline in Kashmir Reader framed the strike as a claim by the Indian Army, even as it presented as a report a claim by the Pakistan Army that it killed eight Indian soldiers and also captured one at LoC overnight.
Sharif's statement was published in a corner on top - that Pakistan's 'intent for peace' should not be mistaken as its weakness. There was also an editorial inside that said the strikes have left Mufti 'discredited' as just a day ago, she had hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'last chance' to Pakistan to fight poverty and illiteracy together.
Urdu newspapers in the state had a different take on the surgical strikes. Kashmir Uzma gave prominence to Pakistan's denial of the strikes, saying "Pakistan denies India's surgical strikes".
Aftab merely announced "India's surgical strikes across LoC".
The coverage in Srinagar Times was probably the most bizarre. A headline right in the middle of the front page claimed that 12 Indian soldiers had been killed.
Edited by Shreyas Sharma
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