Why The Change Of Guard At Kashmir Press Club Was Essential 

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‘The pro-separatist, pro-extremist clique in power at Kashmir Press Club Has Been Removed. Our own Kashmiri media brethren have removed them’

Truth may not be revealed for long out of fear. And when truth reveals itself, it blows up in our face. Then truth mocks our fear. But it is seemingly too late.

For decades, we knew that the media in Kashmir is largely pro-separatist, pro-militancy. Anybody who entered the profession knew it soon enough. It was an open secret nobody discussed with anybody else. It did not surprise any of us. When separatists and their protégés – the extremists – held away over all sectors in Kashmir, would media be any different? The pro-separatist constituency was in power in the medical sector, in the legal circles, in labour unions, in politics, in mosques, in the society. The media is the product of the same society. So none of us questioned it. Many of us who did not believe in separatism or extremism tried to earn bread and butter for our family by staying away from this powerful clique in the media. Equally, we tried hard that we should not offend this clique. We have to provide for our families. We cannot afford to be the statistic as one more victim of the Na-maloom Bandoor Baradar in Kashmir – the unknown gunmen. Today, the truth has blown up in our face. The powerful pro-separatist, pro-extremist clique among the journalists of Kashmir has been removed from the management of Kashmir Press Club. Our own Kashmiri media brethren have removed them. The UT Administration and JK Police did not initiate any so-called coup at the Press Club. The three security men present there were the personal security guards of Mohd Saleem Pandit, who led the so-called coup.

I am daily amazed at the fantastic flip given to this event. Some fellow mediapersons decided to show the door to this pro-separatist, pro-extremist management of Kashmir Press Club. Yes, they did it forcefully. But was the current management ready to leave otherwise? Their term had ended in July 2021. They continued to hold fort at the Press Club. They turned down repeated suggestions by the Executive Members, who are also elected, to appoint an interim managing committee and initiate elections for the next managing committee. How long would we have to watch them hold on to power at KPC? They were unwilling to move.

Those giving it names to smear the state are doing what they have always done. For decades, they have used everything to strengthen and deepen the Pakistan narrative in Kashmir. We watched it quietly because the media was and is our rozi roti. We don’t have to die pursuing some desire to stand up for what is right. You see an imposing list being put out for all those who supposedly oppose the forcible “takeover” of Kashmir Press Club. Here’s the list. Anjuman Urdu Sahafat.  JK Editors Association. JK Journalists Association. JK Press Association. JFK. Kashmir Journalist Association. KPPA. Kashmir Union of Working Journalists. K Video Journalists Assoc. Kashmir Working Journalists Association. In Kashmir, statements come and go. On ground, nothing is in black and white.

Why I Call The Powerful Media Clique Pro-Separatist And Pro-Extremist

This powerful clique that held sway over the media in Kashmir – why do I call them pro-separatist and pro-extremist? Because they are active collaborators in the disinformation campaign meticulously unleashed by the adversaries of the state. Note the words they are constantly throwing about in their writings and social media posts on Kashmir. Genocide, suppression, oppression, muzzling of voices, demographic changes etc. These words continue to be peddled about with the same feeling of impunity as earlier. Now study their posturing. In their narrative, there is no Pakistan. There are no terrorists. There are no terror support systems. It is only the Indian state and its forces pitted against the unarmed innocents Kashmiris. They couch their professional positioning in charming words. Look up the tweet of Gowhar Geelani, a leading light of this clique. “Kashmir Press Club. The three words they fear and abhor. The first is about the place, identity. The second is the power to tell our story and speak truth to power. The third is the fear of assembly and unity, vibrant voice!” Examine the references. Place, identity. Speak truth to power. Fear of unity, vibrant voice! The same old trope is peddled. No Pakistan, no extremism, no struggle of the Indian state to contain cross-border terrorism by an enemy state. Pakistan uses this phraseology to influence international opinion on Kashmir. So does Gowhar Geelani and others of his ilk.

In a conflict region where the state is battling a hostile, destructive neighbour, whose side are they on? Go through their writings. Do they tell you that Pakistan has shrewdly used its religious affinity with Kashmir to consistently deepen the notion of religious supremacy, and is doing it even now? Do they tell you that Pakistan is engaged in the project to obliterate everything which interferes with the idea to establish the Islamic state in Kashmir? Do they tell you about the intention of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which is translated in action in Kashmir through cross-border terrorism and the enemy state’s effort to embed anarchy? No. They don’t mention a word of any of this. Their rulebook is – why bother with the ugly picture of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and mayhem? Instead, these journalists always position the state against the people of Kashmir.

Study their posturing. In their narrative, there is no Pakistan. There are no terrorists. There are no terror support systems. It is only the Indian state and its forces pitted against the unarmed innocents Kashmiris

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