Ever since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August, a section of the western media’s commentary and reportage has been misleading. There seems to be concerted attempts to portray the situation in the state as dire; make exaggerated claims, even if that requires using unverified information; underplay or ignore the menace of terrorism that India has had to battle against for decades; and take up Pakistan’s narrative. All of this has severely undermined the credibility of the foreign media and exposed their prejudices and biases against India.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), seen by many as the epitome of objective reporting, has been at the forefront of this "misreporting" in Kashmir. The channel used pictures of alleged human right abuses that were not independently verified. Subsequent reports have shown the gaps in their stories. This is in gross violation of the canons of journalism where all dimensions are covered, and the views of all stakeholders presented, instead of just pushing out preconceived notions.
The foreign media has also spoken of curtailment of free press. It is true that journalists in the Valley are working with a degree of communication constraints — imposed with the larger objective of preventing loss of lives and neutralising terrorists. But no one has been restricted them from filing anything and the daily flow of stories from the Valley is proof that Indian democracy is robust.
In spite of daily media briefings by the administration, the foreign media has also exaggerated the number of casualties. In fact, a key success in this period has been that killings have been at a drastic low. Where the western media has shown its blindness is actually the violence by terrorists. One jawan was killed during the encounter a few days after abrogation of the Article 370, but such incidents of violence by militants do not figure in the reportage in the west.
A recent New York Times editorial on Kashmir, shockingly, reflected the Pakistani point of view and refused to even use the word terrorism. The BBC has reported on conflicts all across the globe as well as at home on the dispute with Ireland. The terminology used by the BBC about the militant and terrorist activities in Ireland is different from those used in Jammu and Kashmir. This is hypocrisy of staggering proportions.
The foreign media has also been deliberately silent on the steps taken by the government to ensure a smooth transition. Hospitals have been working in the state, with thousands of major surgeries conducted since 5 August. The implementation of law and order has shown positive results, with pellet injuries not even close to the number that was reported during the protests in 2016.
The protests in the Valley are not the sign of a legitimate political struggle, but rather stem from religious majoritarianism in the state. Only those who have or can instigate violence have been detained. This perspective is hardly reflected in the coverage, which has termed these detentions as a violation of civil rights without looking at the past record of many of these leaders who are known to have close connections with separatists. The same foreign media has been continuously failed for 70 years to report on the atrocities inflicted on the minorities and people of Gilgit Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir .
The government is trying to resolve the J&K conflict, and the integration of the state under one Constitution is a positive step in that direction. The proposed expansion of hydro projects, entrepreneurship opportunities and government jobs will play a crucial role in the rebuilding of the region. A section of the Indian media, by contrast, has been very responsibile while reporting on the issue. The foreign media should learn, be more cautious about their sources and realise that peace in Valley is only possible if the facts on the ground are reported. The last thing we require is sensationalism by a section of the foreign media.
The author is the state executive member of RSS Delhi. The views expressed are personal
Updated Date: Oct 27, 2019 13:10:37 IST