Stop this ugly war of rumours, propaganda

It’s been a hyper active week for Jammu and Kashmir. First, the turbulence at Line of Control and now the Kishtwar tensions. All this in quick succession of Valley’s sectarian tensions, Markundal and Gool killings. Things really look poised for disaster and added with a free for all situation with rumour mongering, exaggerations and propaganda at their pinnacle, the circumstances may go beyond anyone’s control if the moves are not right. A slumbering government, an over charged media pepped up by war frenzy or suitability of regional/communal flavours and the bug of hatred having stung a section of the public out with their hate drenched jargon freely used in public spaces, public statements, drawing room conversations and the social networking sites – everything is a potential catalyst for hastening a probable disaster. One only doesn’t know the form it may take. But it’s scary indeed for every responsible citizens to maintain caution, every government functionary to understand his or her responsibility, media to resist the temptation of fanning the fires with unverified reports, rumours and propaganda and politicians to stop using the occasion for furthering their own petty vote bank inspired interests as the election year comes closer. What bigger tragedy could it be for humanity that politicians in Jammu call for bandh to protest violence exclusively against Hindus and vice versa their counterparts in Valley call for strike to condemn the violence against Muslims. Why couldn’t either of them have shown the magnanimity of protesting against the destruction of humanity in Kishtwar?

The media has donned the role of hatred churning factory, already going berserk upping on the one hand the war jargon and on the other projecting diametrically opposite and one sided view of the Kishtwar panorama. Most reports are half baked, unverified and sometimes figments of the imagination, all promoting the war theory. For instance this latest one about sweets not being exchanged on the occasion of Eid at the Line of Control because the border villagers did not wish to see eye to eye with their Pakistani counterparts. Anybody a bit familiar with the life at the borders knows the two basic facts that the border people, who bear the worst and most direct brunt of any hostility are the last people to advocate war and that their lives at the borders are so controlled and so powerless that they virtually have no say in the matters of LoC, whether it is the booming of guns or the sweetness of mithai; these are the prerogatives of the armies on the two sides. 

The unrestrained politicians, especially the right wing have found it a convenient weapon to further propagate their message of hatred and communalism by working overtime on playing up the communal divisions. In this free for all season, hate soaked individuals are not far behind in using every possible forum from drawing room discussions, phone chats and the internet to push for war and retaliation. The Kishtwar picture is being projected as one sided by many individuals, all embellished with rumours and unmelodious notes of hatred, many advocating war and retaliation. Some robotized humans computer programmed to hate, even equate the Pakistan army with one community, as if both events are in continuation of one another. "Let’s teach these dogs a lesson," has become the dangerous slogan of many. 

Obviously such war mongers have no idea of the trauma, destruction and loss any war wreaks on the people whom it affects, particularly the people at the borders and the soldiers while they themselves continue to lead a comfortable life far away from the war sirens and booming guns. As George Orwell said, "All the war propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, come invariably from people who are not fighting." Let hawks from both sides be gifted a battle field to carry on their own war and spare rest of the sub-continent. A similar exercise would be advisable for communal fascists from both sides, who are easily identifiable with their typical traits of inferring to a communal clash as an incident where the ‘other’ is a rabble rousing, violent miscreant and their own community is only expressing resentment. Only then would they realise that war and violence are nobody’s gain or victory, as did the great king Ashoka after the bloody Kalinga war. 

Bankrupt governments, both at the centre and in the state, have showed little spine in dispelling rumours or extinguishing the raging fires of hatred in both the cases. Defence Minister Antony had to swallow back his own words and take a complete U-turn while facing the political firing squad for his non-hawkish stand on the LoC situation. While Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah cautioned against war, his father and minister in the union government, Farooq Abdullah went on the fast tracked Pakistan bashing mode. On the Kishtwar incident, the state government remained completely clueless unwilling and incapacitated to come out with an official statement on the ground situation and an appeal for calm. It simply resorted to its knee jerk reaction of blocking the internet and hampering the mobile and SMS services which doesn’t help in a state where word of mouth travels even without the aid of these gizmos and gadgets. The twitter champion chief minister instead of making a public appearance on television to dispel the rumours and make an appeal for calm to the public, addressed a handful of his twitter followers and Sushma Swaraj in the cyber skies. The situation is far too grave to be dealt with in such amateurish ways. 

Unfortunately, there is no leader of the stature of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, or men like Buddha who can steer us out of this sucking whirlpool of hatred and hostility. There is need to popularise and invoke their words. "Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it," said Martin Luther King. Let’s bear that in mind instead of joining the mad frenzy of war mongering and communal hatred.