Made For Media?

A Pakistani militant has been “captured alive” by the police and the army during a gunfight in a Baramulla village.  As if they had stumbled on some mathematical proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the insurgency here, hysterical reporters and anchors on Indian news channel, and their juvenile reportage and analyses, appeared to have only one goal:  to establish that Pakistan has been sending “terrorists” into Kashmir. According to official data, more than 4000 foreign militants, most of them from Pakistan, have died fighting government forces in Kashmir. Pakistan has fought three wars over Kashmir. Around 40,000 Kashmiri youth crossed the Line of Control for arms training in the other Kashmir in the ‘90s, and several thousand of them have died. There would be at least three dozen Pakistani and Pakistan-administered-Kashmir militants in various jails of the state and India currently.  Hasn’t that been proof enough that the Pakistani people and state are involved in the Kashmir armed insurgency? This has never been an unresolved question. It has remained so only for the hyper-nationalist Indian media and the Indian state, both of whom refuse to accept the reality because the line between the media and the state suddenly vanishes when the subject is Kashmir. The same media chooses to black out news about thousands of Kashmiris participating in funerals of Pakistani militants.

When the media becomes an extension of the state, it can conveniently afford to trample the basics of journalism. First, there is no reason to believe that the militant was “captured” alive. According to one account of the “gunbattle,” he was “forced to surrender” when the police hurled chili grenades into the cave where he had been hiding.  A few photographs leaked to the media by the government forces, however, leave ample scope for skepticism. They show the militant coming out of the cave holding an AK-47 in his hand, smiling. What Standard Operating Procedure allows filming a gun-toting militant who is in a pretty good position to shoot? It appears that rather than the reporters and anchors, none of whom could ever have any idea of what a gunfight in a remote forested area would look like, it was the forces that were narrating the chain of events. Instead of focusing on facts, the emphasis was on the Pakistani origins of the militant. Indian news channels spend precious broadcast hours, endlessly, on finding the elusive Pakistani link to the Kashmir armed insurgency. In the process they not only expose their links to the Indian state but also a total disregard for the truth.

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