AAMIR ALI BHAT
In a democratic country, mass media which is considered as the fourth estate should act as a mirror to reflect the truth and realities of society. It should always raise the issues of common masses and should not hesitate in exposing the government and corporate malfeasance. It should allow people to participate in discussions, debates regarding particular issues in a society. If media does not take its responsibility seriously in any democratic country, politicians will behave like dictators or even worse , . This is the actual role which mass media should play in every democratic society. But, in reality the truth is something else, presently in a democratic society media is playing an inconvenient role by disseminating biased and selective news among audiences. In modern democratic countries, media is being strongly used to divert the attention of people from such issues which goes against the government.
When it comes to India, which is considered as the most populous and one of the largest democracies of the world, the media is being used to enable a free political system to operate. The media is profoundly helping the political system to operate freely by acting as a platform of their propaganda and hiding their wrongdoings.
In case of news which is related to Kashmir, the nationalist Indian media always gives pompous coverage to its state propaganda and elicit the jingoistic fanaticism and marginalize dissent of Kashmiri people. In order to display its overwhelming authority in Kashmir, the Indian state , on one hand, is using its security forces to crush the popular and legitimate resistance of the Kashmiri people and, on the other hand, their news anchors are doing the same by spreading the venom and hatred especially during the prime time shows.
Let us look towards the role played by national media during 2016 uprising, which broke out when popular militant commander, Burhan Wani, was killed in an encounter on 8th July 2016. During this uprising, when internet services were suspended and local news papers were squelched as the protesters from every nook and corner of Kashmir took to streets, the Indian news channels acted as huge platform for state propaganda to pulverize the resistance of people. The Indian media played a key role in hiding the brutality and barbarism committed by security forces in Kashmir. When the uprising became fierce and attracted world attention, Indian media suddenly shifted its narrative and started exaggerating Balochistan and Pakistan administrated Kashmir victims. They followed the same technique of American media which Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky have mentioned in their book Manufacturing Consent, “ The victims of enemy states will be found ‘worthy’ and will be subjected to more intense and indignant coverage than those victimized by United States or its clients, who are implicitly ‘Unworthy’.”
Herman and Chomsky write that during 1980’s , the American media concentrated more on victims of enemy countries and gave less or no coverage to the victims of their own country or client countries. To divert the attention of people and world media from the popular uprising of Kashmiri people in 2016, the Indian news channels followed the same idea. When the uprising reached its peak stage and when everybody started talking about the Kashmir situation, in order to escape from such situation the Indian state with the help from their henchmen television anchors suddenly started concentrating on victims of Balochistan and Pakistan administrated Kashmir. When their own forces were busy in maiming and killing Kashmiri people including children, teenagers, , the national news channels of India were busy in fabricating concocted news about Balochistan and Pakistan administrated Kashmir. By using excessive force, when the Indian state became successful in breaking the six month long uprising, a certain Bugti, who was the leading panelist of all Indian news channels till then and was revealed as leader of Balochistan freedom struggle leader completely disappeared from Indian media.
After the 2016 uprising, Kashmir became a major topic for Indian news channels. Every day in their prime time shows, they are leaving no stone unturned in maligning the Kashmiri movement.
Killing, maiming, torturing, blinding of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces is no news for Indian news channels. They always try to seek those issues from news related to Kashmir which goes against the popular movement of Kashmiri people and prove them as Pakistan sponsored terrorists. Whenever, any attack takes place in Kashmir, Indian news anchors immediately went on their news channels to declare those who perpetrate the attacks as Pakistani terrorists or Pakistan sponsored terrorists without any prior investigation. It sometimes seems that Indian news anchors are so clairvoyant that they can easily predict that who will be the next target of cow vigilantes.
By giving selective and biased coverage to Kashmir issue, the news channels actually want to tarnish the Kashmiri movement and to indoctrinate the opinion of public with Indian state ideology on Kashmir. Except the people of their own country who are the brainwashed victims of their propaganda, these nationalist anchors did not achieve any success in changing the opinion of Kashmiri people and the rest of the world. By spreading venom and hatred among people India , the Indian media equally responsible for bloodshed in Kashmir.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]