The Indian media’s idea of covering Kashmir has often been in sync with ‘serving the national interest’. In the decades-old territorial conflict, journalists struggle to remain unbiased and untouched by nationalistic fervour while reporting on the issue.
It’s the Indian media’s duty to ensure that TV debates on Article 370 are not devoid of representatives from Kashmir. Ever since the government revoked Article 370, which grants special status to Kashmir, and bifurcated the region into two union territories, the impact of the decision on the lives of Kashmiris (disruption of communications and essential supplies of medicines) have found minimal coverage in the Indian media.
Several foreign media outlets, however, have reported the tense situation in J&K. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar denied that there was a media clampdown in the Valley and flayed foreign news outlets for spreading biased and fake news.
While the Prime Minister wished everyone on Eid and claimed that Kashmir had not benefited from development it deserves, it takes little to realise that development and peace are the two sides of a coin. And peace comes with mutual trust, not suspicion.
A silent Valley, as projected in the media, doesn’t necessarily imply unqualified acceptance of the government’s move. A series of reports in BusinessLine has pointed out how traders and the tourism industry in the Valley are silently protesting against the abrogation of Article 370 by shutting down their services.
Kashmir is an integral part of India. Merging it with the Indian Union could have been done in a more transparent manner and by taking Kashmiris into confidence. The alleged detention of the democratically-elected leaders in the Valley goes against the democratic principle of moving forward on important matters by seeking the views of all and listening to a diversity of opinions.
The media’s job lies in giving insights into both the sides of the story. Let us also know how Kashmiris feel about a decision that could turn their lives upside down.
The writer is a Sub Editor with BusinessLine