Scared, Caged, Angry: Kashmiris Look At Indian Media With Distrust

Scared, Caged, Angry: Kashmiris Look At Indian Media With Distrust

India

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar & Sandeep Suman

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“Watch any Indian news channel, they are showing lies. You yourself find out the truth. Go downtown, people are frustrated and angry. People are forced to stay indoors. Government is using Army power to control us.”
A Kashmiri boy

A Kashmiri boy who runs a small grocery shop in the outskirts of Srinagar agreed to talk to The Quint on the condition of anonymity. He’s scared of getting arrested and tortured at the hands of the police. He is angry as well, not only about the abrogation of Article 370 and being ‘caged’ by the government, but also with the Indian media...

I went to Kashmir for four days. Upon landing in Delhi, the first call I received was my mother’s. She said my ‘tour’ of Kashmir must have been good, given normalcy has now been restored in the erstwhile state. I asked her why she thought so, to which she said, “That’s what news channels are showing these days.”

I don’t blame my mother, or any other viewer for that matter, for believing what the media feeds the masses since it’s the job of journalists to report facts, and most importantly, the truth.

However, is what most of the Indian media reporting from Kashmir the truth? The answer, sadly, is no. I don’t know what or who’s stopping the Indian media from giving Kashmiris who are scared, isolated and angry, a voice...

In my four-day stay in Kashmir, I didn’t meet a single Kashmiri, and I am not exaggerating, who is happy about Article 370’s abrogation. I spoke with Kashmiris from all walks of life: serving Defence personnel, drivers, doctors, homemakers, government employees, students. Curious as to how some news channels were picking up voices of happy Kashmiris, I continued my search.

I chatted with a popular TV journalist to investigate. He said all he does is place a gun mic in front of Kashmiris and they start saying positive things about the government. I still couldn’t understand this phenomenon. Finally, he explained to me that Kashmiris praise the government’s move not because they’re genuinely happy but because of the security personnel standing behind the cameras.

We both paused and looked at each other... He said, exasperatedly, ‘Ab kya karein?’’ (What can we do but follow the editor’s instructions?)

Much like me, he’s a journalist who scours the streets for news. However, before it reaches you, it needs to be cleared by the editor, without which no piece of news can see light of day.

However, not every journalist looked frustrated. There were some who were happy to keep the truth to themselves. In their perception of patriotism, they think they’re doing the nation a great service by misleading their fellow countrymen.

In fact, these supposedly patriotic journalists even had a spat with the journalists who questioned their misreporting. With pride, the former said they aren’t doing anything wrong as long as peace persists in the streets.

Well, if a curfew and deployment of massive security personnel is projected as peace, where people are confined to their houses, I’d say there’s something most certainly wrong with these journalists! Silence, too, can speak volumes.

Locals spurned me since I am a representative of Indian media. They reportedly said they mistrust the Indian media and have put their faith in foreign media as only they are showing the truth.

The question is: Can the truth be suppressed forever? Will the media succeed in misleading the masses by its misreporting once the Internet are restored in Kashmir?

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