Srinagar: The cable channel operators of Kashmir said the reportage of a section of Delhi-based media seemed to be motivated by “Hindutva right-wing” politics, which is why they leave no stone unturned to show Islam in a bad light and blame both Pakistani and religious TV channels for instigating the masses.
“We pulled down the Pakistani and the religious channels after the ban. We were shocked when it appeared in a section of Delhi-based media that everything which happened in Kashmir was due to these channels,” a group of cable operators told Kashmir Reader, without divulging their names since they said they would have to face adverse consequences.
The operators said that they were showing all the religious channels belonging to every faith, which includes Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and others.
“The media talks of only Islamic channels. Is not this an inherent bias of the people who report it,” operators said. “It was simply communally-motivated reporting in the media to strengthen the Hindutva agenda in Kashmir.”
The cable operators said Pakistani channels were famous in Kashmir, both those airing soap operas and those for news.
“The Pakistani news channels dealt with news of their own country. Kashmiri happenings hardly featured on the channels,” the operators said.
The operators said pulling the channels off air has put their livelihood in danger.
“There are 15,000 people associated with this profession in Kashmir. People watch cable since it gives them a different product than the DTH (Direct To Home) satellite services. Why would they watch cable TV if it is not different from DTH,” the operators said.
Another cable operator said that the Delhi media, which was blaming Peace TV, Q TV and Pakistani channels for people getting “radicalized”, also threatened the operators.
“The tone of the reporters affiliated with the Delhi media who called us was as if we were terrorists. They demanded to be told why we were showing Islamic and Pakistani channels. Is Kashmir not part of India, they asked. They simply threatened us,” operators said. “We felt so insecure we pulled down the channels. We also got some signals from the state government.”
A top official of a satellite channel which caters to Kashmiri audiences said the government had verbally directed them not to cover the protests or anything related to the happenings on the streets.
“We were categorically told not to cross limits. We are now in a fix over what to show,” official said.
Both the Congress and the Communist Party of India have demanded that these channels be banned in Kashmir. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said that intelligence agencies would look into the matter.
Later, reported that the New Delhi had asked the state government to take immediate steps to stop “unauthorized broadcast”.
The government has been unable to contain the pro-freedom protests in Kashmir after the April 9 elections were held for the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. People and students have come out and staged pro-freedom demonstrations across the state.
The ban on channels has come after the government banned 22 social media sites in Kashmir.