Demonizing Kashmir and Kashmiris

Governor Satya Pal Malik on last Friday expressed his disappointment on how ‘Delhi was searching for incidents they can misuse for own benefit’. Condemning Indian media on coverage of events in Kashmir, Governor said that Kashmir is ‘being demonized’ in Delhi. Addressing a function in Jammu, he said that ‘positive things’ like recruitment of one thousand doctors, incident-free panchayat and municipal elections and youth taking part in supports ‘rarely make news’. He said that while five to ten deaths in his local town in Bihar don’t get mention in city newspapers, a death in Kashmir becomes a ‘national headline’.

Demonizing Kashmiris is the staple Indian news channels are strongly infatuated with. It is like drug addiction, they carry the streaks of. Not a single morsel will go down their gullet unless it is salivated with denunciation filth. It is in feral howl they gauge the ratings. More pugnacious they are in their eye-contact, more is the furious response in the hashtag. It doesn’t take them long to ferment incidents to their taste. Con artists they are in usurping words off their virginity and impregnating them with mass of lies. They enjoy language heist and are allergic to truth distillation and healthy debate. Their studios are persecuting chambers for we Kashmiris where we stand vilified and scandalized even from the womb. And our very existence is denounced as an act of rebellion, even if truth and justice roar on our side. They have tridents to tear us apart, swords to measure our necks with.

In this chopping, the first causality, as we know, is truth. What remains is wholesome propaganda that gets institutionalized. With no fear of contradiction, the principal aim is the conquest of minds of Indian people and their ability to sift truth from lies. We, therefore, have a mauling bear and a biting dog being venerated more in dignity than a Kashmiri projected as a monster. Last week on Voice of America, Urdu Service, an Indian journalist– in the wake of seven civilian killings in Pulwama, south Kashmir by Indian forces—echoed the same feelings. Thanks to the malicious propaganda by the media, he said the complete insensitivity by people of India on the shocking incidents of human rights violations in Kashmir is because ‘ people in India do not think Kashmiris as human beings’ (woh inko insan hey nahin samajtey). Stereotyped as ‘terrorists’,‘ separatists’, ‘extremists’ and a community to play stunt at Pakistan bidding, all eyes and ears, let alone tenderness of hearts, stand already jammed to the screaming woes the valley finds itself caged in. Hiba Jan, a 13 year baby is the latest victim of the pellet gun fury. At her entrance gate in the lap of her mother she is fired with pellets. From Srinagar’s ophthalmologic ward her terribly shocking picture, gone viral, should have melted even a stone in the bosom (the little angelic baby has since been put on anesthesia twice to remove the iron splinters from the eye). But when the barricade is the sky-scrapper, wherefrom the wails will penetrate through and evoke public outrage. This is just a flake of an iceberg that has since long frozen people in India in stupor.
The information age we are basking under is the media age. It is the most effective tool in molding and manipulating opinions. Demonology, retribution, demonization and hate conceives and starts from the news rooms, from the biased reports, from the hyper nationalist anchors and panelists. Media has the power to make innocent guilty and guilty innocent. And that is where we lose to the unscrupulously spiteful campaign media in India has launched against us. And what little we manage in defense to is too little to wash the smear. Even that tickle is subjected to many restrictions here.
It is our calculated opinion that had media people in India done justice to their profession and have not served to corporate interests and in respect to the constitutional imperatives been upholder of truth and justice and accountable to their conscience, the relationship between Delhi and Srinagar would not have been marred by bitterness, bordering on rancor and callous insensitivity. Perhaps subcontinent, Kashmir in particular, would have scripted a different story. Of harmony, peace, hope and prosperity, on the bedrock of which humanity flourishes, hostility vanishes.
Governor Malik, while making restatement of the obvious, has his own malediction regarding professional waywardness of Indian media. His condemnation is not getting coverage of his initiatives regarding jobs, sports activity, entertainment and lower tier elections. He also complains why ‘an odd killing’ in Kashmir eclipses his otherwise “pro-people” agenda. It needs a separate column to look to the cure therapy that Governor sahib seems fixated with. But one thing is clear, mourning and celebration do not go hand in hand. Deaths in Governor’s home town are either natural or accidental, and hence not the headline status in the media. The same kind of response we observe here in our state too for deaths of this kind. But funeral processions of a militant with thousand mourners wailing pronounce a verdict different, a situational urgency to address. But that is ignored from both, Rajbhavan in Srinagar and PMO in Delhi. And the media there as usual extracts the lies from the mourning and draws the vicarious pleasure. The infection spreads to millions through the most powerful medium. We are degraded as ‘terrorists’ while shouldering coffins of our dear ones. Alas in ‘national interests’ even a feeble cry of protest warrants punishment under draconian laws. A proof enough to tell us apart, treat us villains. And push us to the wall.
The question is if the media has deviated from sticking to professional ethics—and certainly it has, isn’t it the responsibility of the executive to rein it and hold it accountable. But as we are grown to the apathetic attitude of those who wield power in Delhi, that expectation is far fetched. It is, rather, the tail that wags the body. The virus has spread far too down.