by Gaurav Agarwal
The nation is evidently suffering, suffering from boatloads of blood loss from the opening of an unknittable deep seated flesh wound right in the middle of its gut, caused by political maneuverings and social exploitation, which consequently has also left exposed the dark underbelly of the country wherein laid stuffed all of the resentments, all of the sufferings, all of the burning indignations and all of the suppressed desires of the past, which were initially birthed into existence through centuries of conflict between the country’s own two people and later amplified by a partition between them.
At a testing time like this, the media has remained consistent, consistently devious in their approach. The media has chosen yet again, to appeal to the emotions of the unreasonable. Publications and broadcasters conveniently choose particular stories to highlight, and particular stories to lowlight. The gatekeeping considers neither the intensity and nor the magnitude of a story to be of any consequence. All that matters is the narrative and the agenda. Perhaps, that is why some people are better aware about what befell on Mohammed Akhlaq and some are better aware about what befell on Kamlesh Tiwari, but horrifyingly few are aware about what befell on both of them in an equally intricate manner, except maybe for the ones whose duty it is to keep and maintain records of past atrocities.
Nobody except for the mainstream media is to blame for this. Selectivism and hypocrisy are bedfellows, and the media through their unyielding devotion to these bedfellows, has certainly accelerated, if not caused, the reversion to tribalism of our multicultural society. Our society now resembles a tribal society in which the dominant tribes, sooner or later, demand their pound of flesh in the form of schadenfreude, which the mainstream media happily provides them with at the first sign of want.
The people need to take cognizance of this, because this is a problem which has now become entrenched within our very fabric. It will not wither away just like that. Not today, not tomorrow and not in the years to come. It took decades of concerted efforts by malignant forces to bring it to this level at which it is at today, and so, it will take decades of resolution to take it down multiple notches, and the place from where we should start our quest should be from the territories of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
Think of J&K as a microcosm of India, only unhinged. Except for the natural multiplicity of factors which collaborated together to make J&K unhinged, it was the media which made sure that an artificially fuelled conflict seems organic to the rest of the world. It was the media which, in its overzealous quest to appear as progressive to the world, armed a militant fraction with a false sense of righteousness.
It was the media which helped drill into the heads of the militant fraction that what the Islamists of Pakistan and foreign lands are doing, by placing their rifles on the shoulders of the discombobulated Kashmiri youth and using them as dispensable pawns to fire at India, is for their own communal good.
The media did it by eulogizing and sings dirges for the Wanis of the valley, for the Naikoos, for the Afzals, for the Yakubs, for the Yasins and for every godforsaken ‘TERRORIST’ out there who is very rightly taken out of the equation and executed, so that new ones can feel inspired to come up and take their vacated place. The media justifies this by making it about the oppression of the ‘Kashmiris’ by our security forces. They justify this by making it about the clampdown of the present dispensation on the rights of the Kashmiris. They justify this by making it about the local youth not having any other option left. They justify this by making it about everything else but, what it actually is, because then their crusade would be exposed as unjustifiable.
It is about no other thing except for the string pullers who sit atop their lofty safe mansions in lands far away and send other people’s children to die in the valley for a ‘cause’ while keeping their own safely tucked besides them. They do this so that they can feel important, so that they can feel like they are contributing towards a bigger purpose. But they are not, because otherwise they would not hold their own kin back. It’s an impersonal and detached cause which Pakistani and foreign interests tend to by using the lives of others to keep India troubled. That’s what it boggles down to at the core. Major Gaurav Arya wrote a brilliant open letter on this when Burhan Wani was killed by the army 4 years ago, kindly go through it.
The deracinated section of the Indian media needs to stop operating like a BBC or a CNN in matters of Kashmir, and exist as an indigenous entity which does not regard the acceptance and resulting camaraderie from international forces with vested interests as the seal of approval for its excellence. The credibility of the foreign media is anyways well known to all quarters of the world. It is not for nothing that the new buzzword ‘Fake News’ has caught so much fire. The Indian media needs to decide if it wants to be looked at through that same prism. Moreover, the Indian media is a free entity, and by no means am I implying that their views on Kashmir be gagged from airing. They should be free to split in championing different causes from Kashmir itself, and they are.
Some publications and broadcasters focus on putting pressure on competent authorities for restoring the rights of Kashmiris to avail internet facilities, while some publications and broadcasters put pressure on competent authorities for rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits. This split is not a problem. This split is in fact, beneficial. It helps highlight two important things at once.
However, the split which is not desirable is the split between the media when one section takes to rightly lionizing the sacrifice of the army, but the other takes to castigating them for cracking down on terrorism.
The latter section also constantly shifts goalposts in order to keep justifying their behavior. First, they claim that the people from Kashmir who indulge in terrorism do so because of the lack of education and opportunities in the valley, but later when a terrorist dies, that same section of the media tries to humanize and raise the stock of the dead terrorists by attaching epithets like that of, ‘Mathematics Teacher,’ ‘Engineer,’ and ‘Doctor’ before their names.
Also, we know now that the media was quick to tell us about what Riyaz Naikoo was like when he was not a terrorist in order to evoke some sympathy for him, but have we asked ourselves as to why the media observed radio silence when it came to reporting about what our 8 brave martyrs were like? What they suffered from? How they choose a good path despite struggling from socio-economic constraints?
Now, I am not trying to get into the business of preaching on what is a nationalism-oriented media and what is an anti-national media. That’s not my raison d’être for writing this article. I do not conflate politics with sovereignty and integrity. But unfortunately, the media does. So, I am writing this article simply to try to drive the point home that the sanctity, sovereignty, security and integrity of the nation-state which provides us with the right to scream, cry, and whine is non-negotiable, while the ones who work to damage it are deserving of denouncement and ostracization, if not legal punishment.
Furthermore, if there is even so much so as a hint of a human rights violation which has occurred in the valley owing to which the army needs to be put under questioning, then the media should obviously do it. However, they cannot connivingly use that opportunity as cannon fodder for blasting the entire legitimacy of our army’s valour in Kashmir. They cannot use it to provide intellectual and social ammunition to the terrorists and their sympathizers.
Lastly, we need to understand that we live in a world where we believe what we see, but what we see is unfortunately written by those who see what they believe. Therefore, we should not rely on the media when it comes to forming an intricate understanding of Kashmir, because their rigid unwillingness to prioritize national integration over political opportunism deeply hurts any and all chances which the country has of emerging as one cohesive unit in the future.
by Gaurav Agarwal
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi