Days after the Indian Government passed the new land laws in jammu Kashmir and transferred many thousand acres of Forest land to the Industries and Commerce Department, the administration started demolishing the settlements in the Forest areas of the Himalayan region.
The Indigenous Gujjar Bakerwal community of Jammu Kashmir has been living in forests for eternity and has been taking care of forests. Since members of the Gujjar Bakerwal community did not have access to education in the beginning, they settled themselves in forests and start living on their own by growing their crops and creating temporary shelters.
The story came out a time when Journalism in Kashmir has been virtually put under a crackdown, anything that contradicts the official narrative, is punished with jails, harrasment, physical or verbal abuse. The project was undertaken and later the story published at such a time when everyone celebrated the ‘illegal settlers’ being removed,Senior politicians from the valley visited the areas to demand the rights of Forest dwellers.
As the story was going viral, not more than 48 hours the local administration which has after 05 of August 2019, when the special status of Jammu Kashmir was abrogated, implemented all the Central laws and was reluctant to not implement the Forest Rights Act-2006 (A central law which gives land possession rights to indigenous Forest dwellers) was ordered to be implemented in the region.
Cameras- Had three cameras, one was fixed at a stagnant position, the other one was used capture B-Rolls and the third one was used for wider frames.
The Gimbals have been used for the movement shots and the circular view shots in the initial part of the story.
Audio Microphones have been used throughout considering it is winter time and the wind speed was too intense
The tripods have been used to capture the interviews.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The toughest part other than the risk involved, amid the deafening silence of media in Kashmir was reaching these higher ups where these demolition drives were conducted (video is shot at three different locations). We had to walk thorough a hilly terrain and the Forces (Police) had blocked all the ways to these places to disallow any media organization to cover the story.
We walked through the dense forests to avoid scrutiny and once the trailer (initially the trailer was outed few days before the story came out), this was the first time anything was said against the New Land Laws in Kashmir by the locally operating media, the officials wanted the story to be stopped, But the story was released on 16th November 2020.
What can others learn from this project?
Journalism is all about objectivity, Facts and information cannot be single-sided, It has multi-dimensions and we as Journalists have give voice to all the narratives, not buy any, irrespective of the Fact, how dominant/ powerful any version on any news/ story is.
In an age of misinformation/ distortion, as journalists it becomes imperative for us to report facts and events.