Intro : How long will Indian media keep giving national space to people challenging the sovereignty of our country?
In the last few days, Jammu and Kashmir is in limelight, internationally, for all the bad reasons; the reasons that the people on the ground are least concerned with, the reasons people of the state give no heed to. Some non-entities of the Valley, the separatists, managed to grab the attention only for reasons that are related to their own existence. A small incident of gathering of a few hundred (not even one thousand) supporters of separatists, a gathering made possible by the best efforts of the separatists, an assembly meant only to get attention by doing anything, hoisted the Pakistani flag.
Days after his release from jail, separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat on April 15 held an anti-India rally in Srinagar in which his supporters were spotted carrying Pakistani flags, media reports claimed. The 45-year-old separatist leader was arrested from his home in Habbakadal area of the city, a day after he—and another separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani—was placed under house arrest for allegedly raising anti-national slogans during a rally in Srinagar where Pakistan flags were also displayed.
Earlier, Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi (head Dukhtaran-e-Milla), was booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for hoisting Pakistan flag and singing its national anthem on its national day in Srinagar.
This propaganda has its reasons. The separatists became the talking point in J&K after their ineffectiveness and irrelevance became evident in the recent democratic processes of the state, be it the elections of the Panchayats or the state assembly. Neglected by the people, the separatists of the Valley wanted an opportunity to be in spotlight for their pseudo-relevance and also to keep funds floating for living.
Unfortunately, the misinformed and TRP seeker media made the presence of the separatists and their propaganda felt in way that was disproportional to everything that separatists are or stand for. A complete case study of the adverse effects/results of the kind of coverage that the media did is a case study in itself. Things get worse when other hidden agendas like defaming Indian Army is achieved by the separatists through the media. When security persons throwing tear gas and holding deadly weapons are shown repeatedly, it maligns the image of the Army.
But wait! Do the media tell its viewers that the security persons that they are seeing on their TVs are not from Indian Army? Clearly no! Are viewers informed enough so that they are aware of the fact that the police of the J&K wear the uniform resembling the Indian Army in all the law and order situations? Not at all! Alas, the Pakistan and lobbyists of separatism get away with their agenda to project these visuals as a proof of so called Indian oppression in the Kashmir Valley. There is a huge difference between the situation handled by the state police or the Army. J&K police directly comes under the elected government of the state; it takes directions directly from the elected representatives of the people of region concerned. Apart from this, the policemen in action come from the same set of the people that they are dealing with. In a situation like this there is no role of the Government of India or the Indian Army. It was the J&K police which was handling the rioters which were incited and managed by the separatists. It was the police of J&K which killed one of the rioters.
Because BJP is sharing the power in the state, and is also ruling at the centre, it is forced more than anyone else to give answers and be accountable for any and everything. “Ours is an organisation whose founding fathers laid down their lives on the soil of J&K in the name of patriotism and it will be sacrilegious or a sin for us to deviate from the basic principles which form the core of our existence” said Union Minister of State in Prime Minister Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh. The concern is, how long will we allow a non-entity like the Kashmiri separatists to dent the image of our national asset like the Indian Army and how long will our media allow national space to the people challenging the sovereignty of the country? It is time media begin mulling over it.
Arvind (The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Center, New Delhi)