The patriotism of a person cannot be judged on the basis of the religion he or she follows. This becomes more relevant in India where vast religious and cultural diversity was taken as a matter of pride. The things have, however, changed drastically after right-wing Hindus came into power. Since then, patriotism is defined on a religious basis. As happens in subversion of democracy, no citizen is allowed to question two primary institutions of India- the Government and the Army- no matter how dark and despicable the mistakes committed by them are. Emotions are getting the better of rationality and as a result, the citizens of India, are collectively being exploited by different institutions at different capacities. From a high ranked politician to an out of plot cricketer, everyone has thrown his ball in the court of pseudo-nationalism and has subsequently succeeded in gaining the desired recognition and sympathy. The success of this melodrama has been an encouragement for the masses and it is engulfing whole India like wildfire. More people are getting attracted towards this method of gaining guaranteed publicity. Above all Indian digital media has been on fore-front to gain the most out of this trend.
The ideological fathers of this regime have frequently expressed hateful intentions against Muslims. In such a situation, being Muslim dominated, Kashmir becomes their primary target. The media and the government, in tandem, are currently propagating against Kashmir; the support of government for these news channels can be judged on the basis of the fact that since the inception of this regime, the channels have abruptly gone vocal against Kashmir. Hence, Kashmir has ever since been the subject matter of these TV channels. In this situation, how big a bonus it is for these channels when a Kashmiri resident appears on their debate shows as a panelist?
The show which they call debate doesn’t justify the name by any standard. The basic feature of a debate is input and output of opinions from both parties. However, it is a completely different story with these channels where the terms are rather dictated by the host. The environment is deliberately made dramatic like a typical Bollywood movie which lacks logic and is abundant with emotions. The Kashmiri panelists are projected in a villainous role to gain the viewers’ sympathy towards the channel. As a matter of fact, rather than doing any good to the Kashmir’s cause by appearing on these shows, the only thing the panelists from Kashmir attain is insult and mockery. Have we ever seen a panelist from Kashmir given due opportunity to talk?
Instead, the volume is lowered to inaudible level and hence the space is choked. Attributing to a lack of basic journalism ethics and lack of morals, someone has rightly compared these debates to a fish market, where monopoly and chaos prevails. These news channels have lugged down to another level of shame by carrying racial attacks against Kashmiri panelists. The insincerity of these news channels can be seen from the fact that the hosts and sympathizers of the channels often tag Kashmiri panelists as traitors and call for their expulsion to Pakistan and yet they are comfortable in accommodating them in their studios. It can be concluded that these news channels solely aim to malign Kashmir’s political struggle with a fully fledged anti-Kashmir propaganda. In this way, Kashmiri panelists knowingly or unknowingly, contribute to this propaganda. Having said this, nothing validates the participation of Kashmiri panelists on these debate shows. Note that the repetitive appearance of mainstream politicians of Kashmir in these shows is justified by their liking towards staying in any kind of limelight.
One may argue that participation in these debates would be beneficial for the cause as it facilitates a type of publicity of Kashmir’s political aspirations. To be logical, by appearing on these news channels Kashmiri panelists rather hurt Kashmir’s political cause. The anti-Kashmir panelists on these shows gain an encouragement once rebuke, taunt and insult a panelist from Kashmir. It is the bait laid by these channels to prey on Kashmiri intellectuals while they feed their viewership. If anything still motivates Kashmiri intellectuals to fall in the trap of these channels, of course, after slaughtering their self respect, they should remember that every time they appear on these shows, they tarnish the reputation and validity of Kashmir’s political cause. These channels have waged an ideological war against Kashmiris and have chosen Kashmiris as their enemies. In any kind of war, the enemies’ gain is our loss. So Kashmiri panelists are contributing to Kashmir’s loss every time their appearance earns fame for the Indian TV channels. If Kashmiri panelists are taken out of the picture of these debates, it would mean that the biased hosts and anti-Kashmir panelists of these debates will be left with no one to exploit. The high-voltage drama would eventually lose its charm and when it happens Kashmir will defeat these propagandist TV channels in this ideological war. It will be the day when Indian citizens will have to meet the face the true aspiration of Kashmiris.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org