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‘Democratic Emergency’: Singer TM Krishna on J&K, Art 370 & Media

Singer TM Krishna explains why he feels the way the govt dealt with the abrogation of Article 370 was ‘undemocratic’

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“If this is not a democratic emergency for our country, I don’t know where we should get to before we could say we are going down a very slippery slope.”
TM Krishna, Singer

Carnatic singer TM Krishna has not shied from expressing his disagreement regarding the way the government dealt with the abrogation of Article 370. Krishna believes many TV channels have turned into mouthpieces for the government, conveying news that the government wants people to know, even if it is far from the truth.

The Quint caught up with the singer to find out why he believes the government has been “undemocratic and unconstitutional” to the people of Kashmir.

Do you believe that the clampdown on media and restricting press freedom in the name of the nation’s integrity and sovereignty is justified?

I think it’s draconian. I think it’s done with the specific intention of making sure the voices of the people of Kashmir are not heard by the rest of the people of India. It’s done also so that voices of the rest of India does not reach the people of Kashmir. You have a section of media that is operating as a mouthpiece for the government. That is the most dangerous position a democracy can get into.

So, how do you assess the coverage especially by TV channels?

As citizens, we have actually degenerated to a point where we are not able to empathise with the struggles of people. And added upon this, we have television channels telling not to empathise...telling us to be more angry...telling us to shout more. So, the whole atmosphere is toxic.

“They have become numb to decency of discourse. Making sure there is enough noise, shouting and screaming that it feels like a masala film. When that becomes the primary goal of television or newspapers, then you know that truth is very far from that.”
TM Krishna, Singer
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Recently, the chairperson of the Press Council of India (PCI) approached the Supreme Court saying he agrees with the Centre’s decision to curb press freedom. In response, TM Krishna, along with N Ram, head of The Hindu publishing group, held a press conference where they slammed him for not standing up for the press when it was most necessary.

The PCI chairperson approached the Supreme Court a while back, saying he agrees with the Centre’s decision to restrict press freedom. The journalist circles across the country are protesting that...

The whole job of the Press Council of India is to make sure that press can do what it is supposed to do. And if the chairperson is going to say, ‘No, we don’t want to our job because we believe restrictions should be there on us,’ he should not be where he is. It’s your job as a government to make sure there is no terror. It’s your job as government to ensure the people are safe by not locking them up but doing your job.

The singer had posted a tweet a while back reciting Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali's popular poem, Postcards from Kashmir.

The audio clip he tweeted out begins with a no-answer tone, signifying the millions of phones in Kashmir that cannot be reached right now because of the ongoing communication black out.

Have you received backlash from people for your opinions ?

My goodness! How much anger is there! I am upper caste, upper class, I have all the boxes ticked to handle, so I am not going to complain that it’s difficult. A Kashmiri opens his or her mouth, just look at the language that’s being used!

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One thing you’d like to tell the government about the way they dealt with the abrogation of Article 370?

Bluntly put, they had no business doing it the way they did it. What they (people) want should’ve been decided by the legislature there. If the Supreme Court does not take a very strong decision on this, we are opening the Pandora’s Box for undemocratic action, irrespective of which party is in power.

“I think, this is a direction that we don’t want our democracy to go in, where you could basically circumvent any procedure, send the army anywhere and decide to do what you want because you have the might, because you have the number, because you have the ability to shout everyone down and because you have enough people on social media who will just put out your propaganda much before anyone else, and therefore, make that the truth.
TM Krishna, Singer

TM Krishna pointed that the government’s way dealing with people of Kashmir during the abrogation of Article 370 has “set a dangerous precedent for the country and future governments”. He also urged people to stand up and extend support to the people of Kashmir.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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