By Muhammad Faysal
Over the past several years there has been a remarkable attention given to Kashmir by the Indian media. But that attention has been to present a distorted picture of the Kashmir struggle. The Indian media’s agenda of dehumanisation and demonising the political struggle of Kashmir knows no limits. Many Kashmiris have written about this caricaturing and trivialisation of Kashmiri struggle by the Indian media.
Every other day there’s a vilified headline aimed to create reactions in Kashmir. Every other night there are rabble-rouser anchors who also bring in lunatic nationalists to show Kashmiris the futility of azaadi struggle. This cycle has been going on since many years, but unfortunately the pro-azaadi camp has not only been incapable of breaking this cycle but in order to have a media presence they keep showing up on these channels.
When NDTV and Times Now among other news channels of India broadcasted fake phone call between two Kashmiris in 2010, that purportedly claimed stone-pelting is being funded by the ISI, the resistance camp could only deny it as a propaganda. It didn’t help in damning this news cycle that kept going until late night when some intelligent Kashmiri put contextual translation of the tape. The translation went viral and this fake call story was dropped. Thereafter there have been many other campaigns that have presented distorted picture of Kashmir. No surprises, as the media mostly sides with state’s narrative. Unfortunately, there are Kashmiri leaders who turn up on these media shows. Throughout the show they are caught up in the whirlpool of noise which works against them.
The Indian media selectively chooses its topic of debate on Kashmir. They always ignore the humiliation of Kashmiris, the excesses of forces and killing at the hands of troops. For them a girl band not allowed to perform in presence of troops is a news but a Kashmiri girl raped by the forces does not ruffle a feather. But why do Indian news channels rake up trivial issues; issues that have no connectivity with the people of Kashmir? They try to keep the entire population of Kashmir busy with rubbish while the daily humiliation of Kashmiris at checkpoints and the existence of 7.5 lakh Indian troops is no issue for them.
Therefore it becomes important for us to project our stories and set the agenda for the media; not join the megalomania during prime-time news. But how can that happen?
All around the world there are remarkable alternate platforms, which filter the stale news and present the real issues affecting people, for the people. There are thousands of YouTubers in conflict zones such as Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Yemen etc., which show the news from the ground and present a context that educates the masses who listen to such voices. There’s a new media platform AJ+ which has done well to broadcast news that matters to the world.
Many Kashmiri youths are very tech-savvy and it is important that the news that matters reach to them so that they can be objective and start working on initiatives that can empower the people with knowledge and also raise awareness. For example when the resistance camp is put under house arrest, they can broadcast their voice by uploading videos. They can do the same on important events or days and also put educative Vlogs describing events and their role in the azaadi struggle. It can be one way to effectively counter the distortion of Indian media and educate the realities not just among our own but to the entire world. The pro-azaadi leaders do not need to crowd Indian channels. If the pro-azaadi camp does not appear on Indian channels the latter would lose their credibility. The idea is out there but it’s a time for them to grasp it and own it.
—Follow him: twitter.com/Faysal