WHAT on earth is happening to our media? Serious journalism is giving way to spurious journalism. Sex is being sold openly; one national daily-does one have to name it?-carried nineteen pictures of bikini-clad girls in just one issue. In a centre-spread, The Telegraph (July 2) carried eight such pictures that Playboy or Debonair must be envying. Hindustan Times, especially in its HT City supplement exults in displaying similar pictures and this is now becoming part of our media culture. No one complaints, lest one is dismissed as a fundamentalist or reactionary.
One can hardly name three or four regular national dailies which provide serious writing. Among them, surely, is The Hindu. One can describe it as free and fearless, considering the issues it tackles. One example is the issue of August 18, which carries a report from Praveen Swami on what is happening in Kashmir. It tells how Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists have slowly been taking over ground-level politics in Kashmir to which few newspapers in India have so far given any attention. Swami recounts several events showing how Islamist power has been taking over control in Sopore since 2006. The campaign was spearheaded by a former Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen terrorist, Massrat Alam Bhat and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat leader Aasiya Andrabi both accusing India of plotting against Islam by imposing migrant workers, alcohol use, prostitution and sexual freedom on Kashmiris!
In June 2006, the Lashkar-e-Taiba attempted to assassinate Abdul Ahad, one of the best-known custodians of popular Islam. The Sopore mystic escaped unhurt- but two members of his congregation were killed in a grenade attack and nine injured. In the same year, two Sopore residents were assassinated by the Lashkar for reported gambling. Again in 2006 a dental surgeon, Mushtaq Shah was tortured in a cornfield before his throat was slit with shaving blades, even as villagers begged for his life. In June 2007, Swami records, Islamist-led protestors tortured a children’s computer centre, and laboratory after rumours spread that the members of the Trust which ran the institutions had made blasphemous remarks. Four months later, in February 2007, terrorists bombed the home of Shah Rasool Memorial High School head Inayatullah Hajani. Why? It would seem that Mr Hajani’s Bangalore-educated daughter, Baseema Hajani was charged with apostasy for putting up portraits of Mother Teresa and Bhagat Singh in the school office! Two years ago, three north Kashmir residents were got hold of by Islamists who dragged the innocent men through the streets, took them to a clearance, stripped them to their underwear, tied their hands behind their backs and tortured them to death.
Writes Swami: “The young men who participated in these mobilisations now form the organisational backbone of the street protests raging in Kashmir”. In the same year, the police had killed a Lashkar operative Feroz Gojri and another known terrorist, which led to Islamist rioting. Apparently killing a known terrorist in action is unacceptable to Islamists. Long before these killings, Sopore saw the silencing of those who might have helped to prevent them. According to Swami, terrorists assassinated Ghulam Nabi Khan, president of Sopore’s powerful Traders’ Federation who had initiated a dialogue with the government to contain street violence. Now we know who must have been financing street violence and who has been supplying the young with stones. Islamists obviously do not want any settlement with the government on any issue. When, following Ghulam Nabi Khan’s murder, the acting head of the Trader’s Federation, Mohammad Ismail Khuroo met with bureaucrats to discuss street violence, local Islamists attempted to set his home on fire. Khuroo, along with this associates Javed Bhat and Hashmatullah Hashim had to resign from their jobs. It has taken even The Hindu to access these facts a whole lot of time which shows that covering of events in Jammu & Kashmir has been very poor. And when there has been some coverage, it has been self-defeating. The Armed Forces stand condemned without any apprehension, let alone understanding, of what they are faced with. It is always India that is wrong, not its enemies. It is nobody’s case that someone within the Force has erred very badly and has gone scotfree. In a situation the like of which we have in Kashmir, anything is possible. And one can be sure those guilty will be punished. It requires more than mere human ingenuity to distinguish a terrorist from an innocent by-stander in certain circumstances. But we Indians have a special talent to give the terrorist the benefit of doubt. It is always the Indian who is at fault, not his enemy. Indians are generous to the point of being self-destructive.
MD Nalapat put it right when in an article in Organiser (August 22) he wrote: “The establishment in Pakistan has been convinced that the generosity of spirit of the Indian political elite in matters of national interest would enable it to expand its winning in a costless way, especially after the 1972 Shimla Agreement showed that it was easy for Pakistan to retrieve from the conference room what its troops had lost on the battlefield”. Or take the example of the fiasco in regard to setting up of the infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games. It is entirely possible that there has been a lot of corruption. But the matter could have been kept in abeyance until the Games were over. No, it has to be loudly proclaimed, making us the shame of the world. Which is why one wants to applaud Subrata Roy Sahara of Sahara India Parivar who put in an “emotional appeal” by way of an advertisement in The Free Press Journal” condemning our wretched media, a sick media, a damning media for maligning the managers of the Commonwealth Games. Asks Subrato Roy Sahara whether ‘for the wrongs of may be a hundred people, the hopes and aspirations of 1.2 billion’ should be crushed. And the nation’s reputation be damaged for ever, thanks to a highly irresponsible and maddeningly stupid media that deserves to be damned till eternity come. Our media has no self-respect. It has no sense of decency; It has a poor concept of patriotism. Our editors should harken to what Subrato Roy says when he appeals to everybody to rise as one united nation maintaining absolute positivity”. He might have as well appealed to wayside dogs which would have given him a better hearing.