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Mehran Firdous profile image

Mehran Firdous

Freelance contributor

Thomson Reuters Foundation

Mehran Firdous is a freelance journalist based out of Srinagar, Indian administered Kashmir with interests in conflict, human rights, environment and society. His work can be seen in Context News ,TRT world, The Diplomat, The New Arab, Article 14, The Wire and more.

March 04, 2024

They have been beaten with canes, doused in tear gas and blocked by concrete barricades and metal spikes but the thousands of farmers trying to march to India's capital to demand higher crop prices also face an invisible barrier - digital blackouts.

As their caravan of tractors and trucks moved from the northern state of Punjab towards New Delhi in February, the farmers found their phones going dead as state authorities imposed temporary internet shutdowns.

January 31, 2024

The suicide of a 16-year-old Indian boy who hit a wall of online abuse after posting selfies in saris and makeup has galavanised calls for social media giants to better protect LGBTQ+ Indians.

Sexual minorities say it is hard enough being openly gay or trans in India, and the pressure only mounts in the online world where advocates blame weak content moderation for an explosion in derogatory feedback.

January 16, 2024

For nearly a decade, Mohammad Yousuf has made a living during the winter by giving sledge rides to the tourists who visit the snowy peaks of the Indian Kashmiri mountain town of Gulmarg to enjoy skiing and other winter sports.

But with snowfall in this part of the western Himalayas down by nearly 80% this season, according to scientists, Gulmarg's slopes are bare and largely deserted, slashing the incomes of people who depend on winter tourism.

January 25, 2023

University student Mehak is used to frequent identification checks by security forces and officials in the northern Indian city of Srinagar, and always carries two forms of ID. Soon, she may need to carry yet another in her purse.

Plans for a new family ID in Jammu and Kashmir have caused confusion and irritation among many residents like Mehak, while rights campaigners fear the programme could lead to increased surveillance and data hacks in the disputed Himalayan region.

December 19, 2022

Indian fashion designer Saira Tramboo had long dreamed of setting up her own online brand – but frequent internet shutdowns imposed by authorities to quell dissent in her home state of Kashmir made it impossible.

When reliable, high-speed connections were finally reinstated last year, Tramboo began selling her designs on Instagram, joining numerous women and startups using the internet to create new business opportunities in the region.

October 20, 2022

When nomad Mohammed Rabbani and his family left the soaring April heat of their hometown to start their annual trek into the hills of Kashmir to graze their livestock, they took 400 sheep and goats with them.

But only about 200 animals will make the 260-km (186-mile) trip back to Rabbani's home in Rajouri, in the west of the Jammu and Kashmir region.

During their time in the hills, heavy rains, flooding, and unseasonal snowstorms killed half the family's livestock.

September 29, 2022

For editors at The Kashmir Walla, fact-checking a story used to involve a flurry of googling before press time. So when an 18-month internet and phone shutdown began in the Indian Himalayan region in 2019, they had to improvise.

"We used to leave blank spaces in news stories when we couldn't verify certain facts. Every week, a team member would fly to Delhi and fill in the blanks," said Yash Raj Sharma, an editor with the weekly magazine.