‘Freedomists’, ‘Accessionists’ and Corporate Media
Do we see any links between the three
In ‘setting an agenda’ these television channels are not different from corporate media in other parts of the world. And their ‘institutional setting’ is not different than elsewhere. But, when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, anchors of most of the corporate television channels do not only become in the words of a Professor friend, ‘judge, jury and hangman’ only but, to use Noam Chomsky’s phrase they become ‘commissars’ – ‘to set up and maintain a system of doctrines and beliefs which will undermine independent thought and prevent a proper understanding and analysis’ and strengthen the ‘States discourse.’
In their enthusiasm, many times, the ‘hyper-nationalists anchors’ of the corporate channels challenge the stated position of New Delhi on Kashmir, perhaps unintentionally and throw open fresh debates on the question of accession of the state with India. The debates on all the television channels after the first two phases of the 2014 Assembly elections not only illustrate the point but also subtly suggest that in their heart of hearts they also doubt New Delhi’s stated position on the question of accession.
The officially claimed seventy and seventy one percentage polling during the first two phases in the State sparked frenzy in a section of media in New Delhi. In their excitement some anchor-persons and panelists on the television channels saw it as referendum in favour of accession of the state with India and a verdict against the ‘Freedomists’- and their politics. Castigating the post-1990 boycotting the elections by the ‘Freedomists’ they not only suggested that the electorates have made them bit the dust and but also pronounced them as having become irrelevant. Ironically, the panelists on most of the channels swayed by the voter turnout were just betraying their ignorance about the great game of hide and seek of the electoral politics in the state since 1946.
The highly excited anchors and “intellectual- academic-panelists” in their excitement surprisingly denounced the ‘Accessionists’- for their regional political agenda and saw the long queues outside the polling booths as a verdict against their regional political doctrines- autonomy or self-rule and vote in favour of “national level parties i.e. the Congress or the BJP. Such discourse perhaps could trick audience in India or inflate TRP of the television channels but Kashmiris during past sixty seven years have graduated to higher level of political wisdom to quote Chomsky, have ‘undertaken a course of intellectual self-defence to protect themselves from manipulation and control.’ It is this intellectual self-defence that despite political machinations and suppressions have enabled them to preserve and protect their political narrative for over eighty three years.
Truly, the debates on the corporate channels have no impact on Kashmir. But when these are dispassionately analysed these mostly go against New Delhi’s stated position on Kashmir. India’s stated position has been that in accordance with laid out principles of partition the accession of the state done by the Maharaja Hari Singh is “final and irrevocable”. And the State Constituent Assembly has ratified the same in 1957.
Since 1996, after every election not only television anchors, panellist in TV discussion but even politicians have been crying hoarse that people of Kashmir have voted for Indian democracy and have ratified the accession and rejected the “Freedomists”. These assertions, in itself manifest the doubts lurking in the minds of the anchors, panellists and politicians about the veracity the document of accession signed by Maharaja or Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly endorsing the same. More than five hundred states were integrated into India in 1947 but there is no discourse about these states after Assembly election are held in these state that they have ratified the integration with India.
The doubts lurking in the minds of the anchors and the panellist are not unfounded, these are deeply in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1948, on the strength of “document” signed by the Maharaja India took the Kashmir Dispute to the Security Council. Notwithstanding, being a signatory to the UN resolutions, India tried to wriggle out of these resolutions and suggested partition of the state as out -of -court solution. Not only Mountbatten, Nehru and important officials even Sardar Patel considered partition as a suitable solution. ‘On 7 August 1948, he suggested to Alexandra Symon of the British in New Delhi that perhaps partition might, after all, be the best answer to Kashmir problem.’ India wanted UNCIP to come up with this proposal but the Commission was working on holding of plebiscite in the state.
It is historical reality that the 1951 and 1957 resolutions of UN have categorically stated that the action taken by the Constituent Assembly, “would not be taken as disposition of the state.”
Notwithstanding, the stated position, after almost every election in Jammu and Kashmir, India has been engaging with Pakistan for settlement of “Kashmir Dispute.” In this column, it may not be possible to recap entire history of dialogue between India and Pakistan, after almost every Assembly election for finding a solution of Kashmir outside the UN. The 1996 election followed by back channel diplomacy culminating in to Lahore Declaration or 2002 were followed President Musharraf and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh meeting in 2004 on Kashmir- opening of Jhelum Valley was biggest CBM, could be recent examples.
Had elections any impact on the political status, leaders of India and Pakistan would not be meeting to negotiate a solution after the elections.