by Sajid Raina

SRINAGAR: In a development that is unprecedented and historic in the Jammu and Kashmir context, the erstwhile Radio Kashmir Srinagar, now All India Radio Srinagar, is off the airwaves for the fourth consecutive day. Insiders said a crippling fault has enforced silence on its Medium Wave.

A group photograph of Radio Kashmir Srinagar at the peak of its work.

“It is frustrating,” one insider said. “We are told that the Radio Transmission set up at Narbal has encountered some serious faults which the engineers are attempting to fix but have failed. Now they are telling us it needs experts to be flown from Delhi and we have no idea if they are coming.”

This is for the first time in the radio station that it is not audible to people. The last major disruption was during the 2014 floods when the station created history by staying alive till the radio building was inundated. After barely two days of disruption, the station was up and live.

The fault is attributed to the failure of the Narbal transmitter and the engineers have still been unable to restore services. Sources said the entire Medium Wave and Short Wave set-up is collapsed. “You can hear us on the internet and on FM, which is restricted to urban Srinagar,” an official privy to the developments said. “Last time during floods we had shifted to Shankaracharya transmitter and then linked it to the base tower at Narbal. This time we can not do it because the main tower is down.”

AIR Srinagar has the primary service and an FM. Its Yuva Wani was closed much earlier. Technically, it has only two transmission set-ups, the Medium Wave and FM. Its Short Wave transmitter operating from Pampore was closed last year leaving the primary service wholly and solely dependent on MW that operates from Narbal.

AIR sources said they are using FM services to the fullest to disseminate the programmes. They also said that the MW transmitter is archaic and the French manufacturer had stopped making such transistors about a decade ago. Besides, the transmitter supplies do not offer support beyond a decade.

The director of the station is said to be in Delhi. The engineering set-up that is manning the systems is in Srinagar but is mostly non-natives. They, however, insist that only experts can rectify the faults.

A senior official of the station talking to Kashmir Life anonymously said that they are worried about the broadcast of Mann Ki Baat that is scheduled to go on air on Sunday. The segment is Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s most-watched broadcast across the country.

“We are facing an interesting situation. People call us and ask us if their radio sets are ok,” one producer said. “Some have taken their radio sets to mechanics only to be reassured that the machines are ok but the station is silent.”

The Radio Kashmir Srinagar is one of the most reputed stations of the public broadcaster. It was launched within days after the first Kashmir War between India and Pakistan and has been a major source of information to Jammu and Kashmir. The station was established on July 1, 1948, when Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. JN Zutshi was the founding Director General of Radio Kashmir. After 1953, it joined the All India Radio network and it formally had its name changed to AIR Srinagar after 2019.

It was not immediately known if the AIR network could divert its broadcasts through the transmission networks it runs in Jammu and Ladakh.


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