Geo-Politically Blind Reporting on Kashmir

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Abdication of Responsibility by Global Media Moguls

So-called accurate, high-quality journalism by international media giants ignores terrorists and their barbaric acts in Kashmir

 

All Reputed Media Houses Bat For Global Peace. Most Think It Shall Be Possible To Achieve By Undermining A Sovereign Nation’s Effort To Fight Terrorism On Its Soil 

Reportage by most global media houses on Kashmir peddles a singular narrative. They hold the Indian state responsible for all that ails Kashmir. This is deliberate, dense blindness to the ongoing jihad in Kashmir. It is abject blindness to the atrocities inflicted upon Kashmiris by the terrorists.

Global media giants have consistently ignored the efforts of the Indian state to bring about peace in Kashmir, and the efforts by Pakistan and its proxies to sabotage it. In reporting on Kashmir post August 2019, reputed international media giants have remained oblivious of the terror and severe clampdown imposed by terrorists; killing of innocent truckers and farm labour, fruit merchant and policemen; hurling grenades at school children; daily intimidation of lakhs of Kashmiris

International reportage on Kashmir claims to be accurate and high quality journalism. Why does this journalism solely focus on condemning a nation’s actions to combat terrorism? Why do global media giants not condemn terrorism and the clampdown imposed on a hapless population through the brutal force of the gun?

International Award for Blind Reporting On Kashmir

Can global media giants distance themselves from their geo-political responsibilities? Can journalism be immune to our collective duty as global citizens?

In February 2021, freelance reporter Ahmer Khan was named the winner of the 2019 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize for his “coverage on the ground in India-controlled Kashmir during Delhi’s lockdown of the region”. AFP has awarded Khan for geo-politically blind news-reporting. In their reportage on Kashmir, many international media giants have seemingly deliberately undermined a sovereign nation’s efforts to fight terrorism on its soil, and have peddled a singular narrative oblivious of the local context.

Khan made no mention of the clampdown enforced by the terrorists, and their intimidation of the region’s population. This is despite the fact that as a Kashmiri, he is fully aware of the barbarism unleashed by the terrorists.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian Parliament revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which guaranteed special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir within the Union of India. The government placed restrictions on movement in order to rule out violence and loss of lives. Political leaders, activists and eminent civil society members were placed in preventive custody to foil attempts to instigate people for violence. Internet services were withdrawn.

The local, national and international media labeled this as the siege, the clampdown, and decried the human rights violations. India had to face tough questions from the international community regarding the alleged violation of human rights of the Kashmiris and the prolonged curfew in Kashmir post August 5. Human rights groups, activists, media persons and the Kashmiri diaspora highlighted the plight of the Kashmiris for months. Even close friends of India who remained tightlipped on the revocation of Article 370 had to break silence of the human rights issue.

The government justified the imposition of restrictions, claiming that not a single person was killed during the entire period of lockdown by the bullets of security forces. For the first time, the entire erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was put under long curfew, and civil liberty was curtailed.

Such state response was anticipated. The decision taken by the Indian Parliament was monumental and was fraught with law and order implications. Initially, curfew was relaxed in areas of Jammu and Ladakh divisions. After August 15, 2019, the government started reviewing the security situation and went ahead with a relaxation plan. By the end of August, curfew was lifted from many parts of Kashmir.

On September 1, 2019,   restrictions imposed by the government were completely lifted barring some sensitive places in old Srinagar city, Anantnag and Shopian. People were allowed to offer prayers in local mosques all across Kashmir, though mass gatherings were not allowed in the grand mosques.

The Clampdown By The Terrorists

Now started the clampdown by the terrorists. All across Kashmir, terrorists enforced a shutdown to achieve their strategic interests. People were threatened with dire consequences if they violated the diktat. Internet and mobile services were still suspended. So the terrorists released posters to impose their writ.

The first poster was released by Hizbul Mujahideen, asking people to observe complete shutdown and stay indoors. They threatened to burn the private cars on the spot if seen on roads. Local truckers were asked not to venture out to ferry apples to the rest of India. Truckers from outside were asked to leave Kashmir immediately and never come back.

Kashmiri Muslim policemen were warned to leave their job and join the so-called resistance movement.

The Daily Dance of Terrorist Posters in Kashmir

Day after day, intimidating and threatening posters were pasted across the length and breadth of Kashmir by terrorists. On September 5, 2019, the poster of Hizbul Mujahideen threatened Muslim policemen to surrender. The poster asked the shopkeepers and drivers to observe complete shutdown.

On September 9, 2019,  Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) came out with yet the poster threatening the people, shopkeepers, truckers and private transporters and petrol pump owners of dire consequences if they ventured out on streets. The poster said that anyone caught on the roads would be burnt alive. Petrol pumps owners were threatened that those providing fuel to vehicles would be set on fire without giving any second chance.

The poster gave names of about ten auto drivers. They were threatened with dire consequences for ferrying passengers.
Three petrol pumps were also threatened with strict punishment. Their offence – they had allegedly provided fuel to vehicles and motorcycles plying on roads.

In the opening paragraph, the poster stated that strict lockdown was the only weapon available with the people to force the Indian state to leave Kashmir.

On September 10, 2019 Hizbul Mujahideen came out with the poster threatening government employees, mainstream political activists and policemen to join the resistance movement forthwith or be ready to face the death.
On October 5, 2019, the threat poster was released by a militant organization named Afghan Taliban. They threatened people from all walks to observe complete shutdown and never indulge in normal activities. Afghan Taliban dared the teachers and students to open the schools. The poster said that any teacher or student seen walking towards the school would be killed on the spot.

The poster warned government employees to stay away from offices. The poster: ‘Any policeman, employee or common man found guilty of not following the diktat will be killed on the spot’. Further, the poster threatened apple growers – men and women – not to visit their orchards, or they would be killed and the orchards bulldozed.

The poster said that banks and petrol pumps must observe the
shutdown in letter and spirit. Shopkeepers would be killed and shops set ablaze if found violating the diktat. The poster urged the youth to sing patriotic and religious songs and shout slogans against India in every mosque.

From August 25 to January 2020, hundreds of copies of more than a hundred different posters were sighted pasted on shops, boundary walls of residences, mosques and diverse spaces across the length and breadth of Kashmir. All of them asked the Kashmiris observe complete shutdown. Whenever the government announced any measures to resume normalcy in Kashmir, terrorists would issue diktats threatening people against it.

The media completely ignored this daily dance of posters. It steadfastly blamed the government for the lockdown in Kashmir. The logic was simple. If you kept lying about the state of affairs and pillorying the government, you wouldn’t get killed. If you decided to put out the truth, it would be the end for you.

The international media faced no such threat. Nevertheless, for the international media, the siege and the clampdown was always a government imposition in Kashmir. All could conveniently be blamed at India’s door.

Govt opened Schools, Terrorists Hurled Grenades at Students

In October, the administration announced the opening of educational institutions in a phased manner. The terrorists and their over-ground supporters threatened teachers, students and parents, asking them to stay away from schooling. Vendors selling fruits and vegetables were targeted at many places. In November when the annual examination for higher classes was finally conducted, terrorists hurled grenades at many examination centers to sabotage the exercise. In Pulwama, a grenade was lobbed at the examination center, injuring many students. In Srinagar, stone pelters appeared outside examination centers to ensure disruption.
Despite threats and attempts to physically harm students and teachers, around 90% students appeared in annual examinations for Class 10 and 12.

Kashmiris Braved Terrorists’ Diktat

In the countryside, despite killing truckers and attempts at physically harming the people, fruit growers, vendors and labour went against the diktat massively. They ensured that not a single box of their produce was left to rot in the orchards. The government procured apples from the orchards itself at impressive rates.

The international media and also the so-called human rights groups gave extensive and detailed accounts of the fact finding reports on Kashmir. But did the international media or these so-called rights groups and their so-called fact finding reports speak about the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist groups and their over-ground workers on the people of Kashmir. No. They were completely silent on this.

Terrorists Killed Kashmiris And Outsiders

For violating the diktat imposed by the terrorists and trying to go on with normal life, terrorists killed Kashmiris and outsiders indiscriminately. Five Bengali workers engaged for farm operations with Kashmiri farmers were killed in Utrasoo village in Kulgam. Three truck drivers who had come to Kashmir to ferry the local produce were killed in Chitragam in Shopian district. A truck driver who was in Kashmir to facilitate movement of goods was killed in Bijbehara in Anantnag district. Two policemen were killed in Shopian. A fruit merchant was killed in Sopore. His son and a minor girl were injured. There were daily threats. There was daily intimidation of fruit growers, transporters, teachers, students, government employees, bankers, policemen, venders. This is the elephant in the room the so-called liberal international media and the so-called human rights activists do not want to acknowledge in order to advance their antagonistic narrative on Kashmir.

Time for Discourse to Change

The discourse must change now. Terror ideologues and terror apologists are the real enemies of humanity. It is time to call a spade a spade. Individuals who sanctify terrorism, or act as terror apologists must be seen as terror collaborators. It does not matter whether they are so-called eminent members of the civil society, high-ranking journalists or other professionals.

Let us define Kashmir’s status in black and white. Security forces have a large presence because of terrorists and terrorist structures. Terrorist collaborators are those who are in nexus with the foreign forces in creating trouble for the common Kashmiris. Terrorist collaborators and terror apologists do not care for a stable future for Kashmiris, their children and grandchildren.

Kashmir needs voices denouncing terrorism to get louder.

The honour, dignity and respectability of Kashmiris has been compromised by terrorists and terror apologists who have antagonized the state and tested its patience for 30 years.

Terrorism has wounded Kashmir and Kashmiris. India cannot remain in a reconciliatory mode. The state had to act. It acted.

If anyone does not like the political, diplomatic, or military actions taken by the state, then he must blame the adversaries of the state. It is these adversaries who have constantly provoked the state into taking such action. The unending provocations at the behest of foreign forces forced the state to adopt a radical shift in its policy.

WARPED REPORTING BY GLOBAL MEDIA GIANTS ON KASHMIR

Any picture of normalcy in Kashmir not acceptable to terrorists

* In 2020, Kashmir witnessed 98 terrorist attacks on security forces (SF), in which 29 Special Forces (SF) personnel and 5 innocent civilians were killed

* The attacks left 49 SF personnel and 38 civilians injured

* There were 35 terrorist attacks on civilians that left 27 Kashmiris dead and 9 injured

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