Why Media Watch in J&K

Kashmiri people’s deep resentment about biased views and misrepresentation of happenings and sentiments of the people of J&K is often, sadly enough, supported by the manner in which many an   events – atrocity, death by security forces’ bullets, and expression of their day-to-day grievances, not to talk of the larger issue related matters, are differently reported in Indian media or not reported at all, compared to similar happenings elsewhere in India. Take for example    the death of a young man in Srinagar by a bullet from the security forces during recent Parliamentary Elections in J&K. A major national English paper from Delhi reported that he was fired at because he was carrying a gun, while Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Times   reports did  not mention he  have carrying any gun at all! J&K Papers reported that the boy, a carpenter, came out in the open street to relax after a daylong renovation of his house for his sister’s wedding ceremony a few days ahead. We double checked with our contacts in Srinagar and found the celebrated ‘National‘ daily’s news not only false but most damaging. The next day we checked eleven major English news papers from Delhi and from different parts of the country, including Hindi. Out of eleven that we checked, except for a story on Election by Sankarsan Thakur in The Telegraph of Kolkata, which did not at all mention the boy having a gun, rest of the papers had no story or had varied versions.  Not one said that the claim of the security forces was utterly false. An unarmed boy was killed by the CRPF.

Talking about the pathetic state of awareness of the people of England, who solely relied for their opinion on the news papers, Mahatma Gandhi says in Hind Swaraj  “To the English voters their newspaper is their Bible. They take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest. The same fact is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited. One newspaper would consider a great Englishman to be a paragon of honesty, another would consider him dishonest. What must be the condition of the people whose newspapers are of this type?”

Our concern is that it is through Indian media that Indian public informs itself and makes its opinion on J&K. A reader who reads the news from that esteemed national daily would only have one more instance for proving that every ordinary young man carries a gun in the Valley against Indian forces. The old stereotype lives on in spite of radical change in situation and the same is reinforced. Such are the stereotypes that have caused India immense damage in terms of alienating Kashmiri youth.  A compulsive intransigence has developed. Anyone who tries a slight correction is not heard, shouted down if he is a Kashmiri, if he is non-Kasmiri Indian then branded as henchman of the separatists.  Then a mechanical implication of that free-wheeling, self-grounded irresponsible logic ends up branding such persons as Pakistani agent, an anti-Indian traitor.

Swaraj Peeth Srinagar Chapter decided in its meeting with Shri Rajiv Vora on 5th July 2014 in Srinagar to undertake media-watch and bring out such discrepancies and misreporting so that proper correction is suggested for a truthful public information.