Journalism – Was it ever independent in Kashmir?

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Some journalists from Kashmir have unleashed a campaign against the local administration for what they call as attack on the freedom of the media. They are running this campaign consistently and meticulously.

The media is considered the fourth pillar of the Indian democracy. Nobody, howsoever powerful, should interfere in the free functioning of the media. Equally, a question must be asked: Has Kashmir media ever been independent, unbiased and impartial?

The truth is – No. This warped reality has prevailed particularly since the inception of militancy in Kashmir. The media, willingly or fearing the non-state actors, has worked under certain influences. One should have the spine to accept the bitter truth. Since the inception of militancy, our reportage has followed two major streams. Fearing for their lives, a large section of Kashmir media would bring to light only that which suited the non-state actors and their political mentors. Another section, who were and are separatists ideologically, became spin doctors to deepen this narrative in Kashmir. Their job has been to attribute everything wrong to the state and discredit it. They never raised their voice against the non-state actors even when journalists and writers were targeted and killed by the Pakistan-backed militants.

The media has every right to agitate against the state and against those who run the affairs of the state if they unnecessarily and with a design, interfere in the independence of the media. But the right to express comes with certain riders. Challenging the sovereignty and integrity of the nation at the behest of malicious foreign powers, distorting the truth and selectively presenting the facts cannot and should not be acceptable.

Journalists use smokescreens in different ways. Recently, a spin doctor-cum-stooge of foreign agencies took to Twitter to give gyaan on cricket the day militants were on a killing spree in Srinagar and spilled the blood of innocents in the streets. This shameless man did not utter a word on the way the innocents were killed. Instead, he kept tweeting non-stop on the T20 World Cup tournament. It was obnoxious. It almost seemed as if he was enjoying these killings. Soon thereafter, this spineless man took to Twitter when a dreaded militant and his two associates were killed in a brief shootout at Rambagh in Srinagar. Without waiting for the identification of the killed militants, this notorious figure started jumping with accusations that innocents were killed.

How strange it is that if the state reprimands him and his clique for spreading misinformation and indulging in distortion campaigns, it is seen as interference in the free functioning of the media. Willy nilly, there are many takers for his brand of journalism. Evidently, those who believe him have no real understanding of the dynamics that drive Kashmir.

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