‘the right to inform’ the former Chief Justice of India, Justice Verma, exhorts the Indian media to remember, ‘excluded the right to misinform’.
The Indian media has grown up as the most vibrant and powerful institution in India which can mould public opinion the way it desires. It has given voice to people and refused to be muzzled and curbed. Even that mighty Iron Lady , Indra Ghandi-who was given the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna for dismembering Erstwhile Pakistan in 1971 and acclaimed as Durga Devi by her staunch rival BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee for this service to nation”—did not succeed to trim its size to her liking. Fighting authoritarian control of the State India which Indra Ghandi aimed to impose through emergency, the journalists preferred imprisonment, harassment, torture, economic loses to making any compromise on freedom of press and professionalism.
With the enactment of the Prasar Bharati Bill and the mushrooming of news channel beaming round the clock , the media in India functions quite independently. It has wider reach and formidable impact. It can make Indians hypnotized and make them hysteric. As we have seen in kargil war and are witnessing in cricket mania it has plunged people of India . Nothing remains hidden from its watchful eyes. In the name of right to freedom of expression , the Indian media even defends the hate-speeches of the fanatic Hindu leaders and the state does not dare to touch them. It is , though, different story that whereas the fascist RSS , the Bajrang Dal, Shiv sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad-which have the communal agenda to pursue and pour out deadly venom against minorities especially Muslims-the students Islamic Movement of India stands banned for the last more than a decade and its workers and leaders are rotting in Indian jails, denying them the opportunity to prove their innocence before courts.
Reading Kashmir form the eyes of aam admi of India, one cannot but admit the impact of this powerful institution in crafting lies and concealing hard realities on the ground is colossal. Kashmir issue is casualty of biased approach of Indian media. Come Kashmir, you will see many a journalists, civil rights champions, intellectuals, who have won celebrity status for their sustained struggle in defending human rights and freedom of speech in India are seen striped naked. Their faith in democracy, human dignity, values , liberty, sovereignty all seem confined within the borders of India . As the borders of J&K stare at their face, they get shaped up into a few honorable exceptions like Gautam Navlakha, Arundhati Roy, Agna Chatterji and Sanjay kak. Even the robes of secularism they have draped themselves in get teared apart as they touch soil of Kashmir .
‘what surprise me’, laments the ‘secularist and liberal’ journalist Kuldeep Nayar, ‘is that Kashmiris have not yet realized that India would never accept a position where the disputed territory opts for a status outside the country’.
The remark of the eminent journalist reflects his putrefying mentality. High on the pedestal of arrogance he speaks in the language of Indian Generals. Far from raising question on converting Kashmir into a garrisoned town, with seven lakh soldiers constantly breathing down the necks of unarmed people and over a lakh civilians murdered and killer cops evading court trial evoking dreaded AFSPA, the soft-tongued Nayar asks Kashmiris to remember the might of Indian army, thereby deriving a sadistic pleasure of bludgeoning Kashmiris into submission. That a man of his stature should deliberately maintain silence on the UN resolution of right to self determination India accepted and cease from holding accountable the Indian leadership from reneging on its plebiscite pledge, shows the double-standard and double –speak they practice when confronted by Kashmir. Cunningly he and his fraternity members in India blindfold Indians from the avowedly stark fact that Kashmir has never been part of India where by its ‘status outside the country’ could mean a secession of Kashmir from India . How can ‘disputed territory’ like Kashmir, with over dozens of UN resolution passed to reinforce its disputability, be claimed ‘integral part’ of Kashmir in light of the historical perspective?
‘right to inform’, in case of Kashmir, as the six-decade long track record of Indian media reveals, not only includes but dominates ‘right to misinform’. That is why distorted versions are fed to the gullible masses of India . It is the need of hour to bring factual position before people of India so as to rinse their minds off the false hood regarding Kashmir . Geelani Sahab in Delhi does that exactly.