Indian occupied Kashmir is burning once again and remains under curfew for months at a time. Over the past seventy years, neither placating nor brutal oppression have been able to quench the desire of Kashmiri people to fight for their right to self-determination. Now whilst such rights are clearly admitted by the United Nations Security Council Resolution, paradoxically, no one who matters in the largest democracy in the world is willing to acknowledge it. One wonders how a civilization that claims to have given the world its first University, nurtured Philosophy and Mathematics in its throes, and produced statesmen like Mahatama Gandhi known worldwide for preaching of nonviolence can indulge in such self-delusion by denying the ground realities and unleashing violence of great proportions as witnessed recently in Kashmir against unarmed citizenry.
It is said that when politicians turn a blind eye towards facts, then the media and civil society ought to jump in, show the political beast its true face, and let the brains rule over emotions. But perhaps India is an exception to this rule. Its media plays a pivotal role in covering up the reality of the Kashmir issue and the following tactics are usually employed.
Firstly, there is no acknowledgment of the fact that Kashmir remains the unfinished agenda of 1947’s partition and without its resolution peace and prosperity cannot prevail in the region. This has clearly been observed in Sushma Swaraj’s address to the United Nations General Assembly as she outright denied allegations regarding India’s violence in Kashmir and called them baseless. Without considering the harmonious option of pursuing bi-lateral peace talks with Pakistan to solve pending issues, the audiences’ attention was swiftly diverted from the real problem to Balochistan. Much of the Indian media’s rhetoric marches to the beat of its own drum, dubbing Kashmiri citizens as “liars” and “terrorists” who are getting what they deserve for having the audacity to demand basic human rights.
Secondly, a vast majority of prominent Indian media outlets including but not limited to the Times of India, India today and The Indian express, fail to admit the fact that the freedom movement in Kashmir is an indigenous movement inspired by Indian usurpation of their right to exercise self-determination. Little reporting, discussion and debate is made regarding mass murders, rapes, and torture and human rights violations happening in Kashmir. Instead, their media’s spin doctors have put out all the stops to dub it as “Pakistan sponsored terrorism”, claiming that their neighbours are fanning discontentment and promoting youth radicalisation in the region.
Their journalism stooped to an all-time low this September when India Today decided to publish their magazine’s cover with an image of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Shareef with a photo shopped mark of slap on his face, openly insulting Pakistani leaders. Interestingly, it was only in the days to follow that the honourable Pope Francis, in his address to Italy’s National Council of the Order of Journalists, emphasized that unethical journalistic practices were akin to terrorism and have destructive potential.
Proof of India’s interference in the affairs of other countries is a well-documented fact such as the arrest of Indian on-duty Navy officer, Kulbhushan Yadav, on espionage charges, who openly confessed managing a terrorist network in Balochistan with the support of Indian Intelligence agencies to destabilise the province in efforts to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. However, proof of India’s support for terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi remains completely masked by their media in order to divert the masses’ attention from their crimes.
One can clearly see that the media’s role has increasingly become the cry of unhinged warmongering with a staggering number of sensationalist reporting and false allegations. The battle is now not being fought on the frontlines but rather played out on late night talk shows, social media and the ever popular hate-spewing print and online publications. The thrust of the confused and ignorant babble is blood-thirsty revenge and the heightened euphoria of a war. However, in these challenging times, the Indian media must adopt a constructive functionalist perspective in order to prevent the perils of war which will endanger the economic stability and peace of both countries. Instead, the Kashmir issue must be recognised and efforts to find peaceful solutions should be made in order to create future harmony and prosperity in the region.