News Television and Kashmir

  • Mahroosh Banday
  • Publish Date: Jun 1 2017 9:06PM
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  • Updated Date: Jun 1 2017 9:06PM
News Television and Kashmir

Not only are the Indian media and the government distorting the truth, even common people are now getting in on the act

When it comes to Kashmir, the reaction of an average Indian mediaperson is rather standard. They invariably label the political insurgency terrorism, Pakistan’s unwanted interference, Islamic extremism – anything for India to play victim.

This is not really shocking. Even at the height of the insurgency, Indian media barely gave any airtime to news from Kashmir unless it was about death, or showed the “moral and professional” Indian military backing away from “violent stone-pelting mobs” or trying to disperse them with tear gas.

Innocent people being beaten up mercilessly, shelled or shot by the Indian military is never shown, or even alluded to. In April, a video showing some young Kashmiri men manhandling CRPF men drove Indian commentators to mad rage, with some even declaring that “those Kashmiri barbarians should be instantly killed and sent to the 72 hoors waiting for them in heaven”.

At around the same time, videos surfaced showing the barbarity of the Indian forces – torturing and killing people, and using them as human shields – but they barely drew condemnation. Indeed, many journalists even condoned the atrocities committed on innocent people.   

There are only a handful of activists -- Arundhati Roy, Kavita Krishnan, Gautam Navlakha -- who have sought to hold the India state accountable for its brutalities in the valley. There are few others who are willing to take the flak that siding with Kashmir brings. The idea of India that they have is not to be meddled with. Media barons don’t want people to be sympathetic to the people of Kashmir, so they try to wash away the sins of the Indian state. As a result, the “truth” they claim to represent is so distorted it is only but deceit.

Recently, the World Press Freedom Index ranked India as low as 136. “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media,” the report said

Not only are the Indian media and the government distorting the truth, even common people are now getting in on the act. For many, merely sympathising with Kashmiris is “unpatriotic” and “disloyal”. Apart from painting Kashmir's political movement as unnecessary and barbaric, the Indian media has convinced the country’s people that the place is unsafe to travel and the people there are unruly. When Indian people do visit the valley, they are often surprised to find the people welcoming and friendly.

Last year when the political unrest was at its peak, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai gave a statement condemning the killing of civilians in Kashmir. And sure enough, a couple of days later, home minister Rajnath Singh fumingly dismissed her as a little girl who had no idea about what she is saying.

The discretion level that India has set for the Kashmir dispute is ridiculous in its selfishness and anonymity. There is an old saying that a spark neglected burns the house. It doesn’t matter how much and how long the Indian media try to bury, sideline or maim the truth, it will always come out one way or the other. Kashmir is in pain and that reality doesn't change if the Indian media or the Indian people do not acknowledge it.