As I start writing this piece, I remember Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote about the press, “The press is called the Fourth Estate. It is definitely a power but, to misuse that power is a criminal act.” Following that train of thought, things are not good with the present day media establishments in the world’s so-called largest democracy.
In a country where nationalism and patriotism of a person are measured by the parameters of how much they hate Kashmiris and Pakistan which are totally two different places with a vivid and full-fledged different history of existence. In all this predicament, the Indian media is considerably to be blamed.
As a student of journalism, we are being taught about the importance of ethics, morality and impartiality while reporting, being neutral, unbiased, never take sides, listen to both sides of the story, stick to facts and figures blah blah blah…! It feels romantically so rhapsodic while you go through the process of reading and learning until you switch to the prime time Indian news in the evening where you get exposed to the harsh, ugly reality of professional journalism with concocted news material, brandishing lies, distortion of facts, presenting only half side of the story, unbiased reporting, passing comments and judgements, even hurling abuses while distributing certificates on nationalism and labeling anyone terrorist, Pakistani, deshdrohi from decorative newsrooms.
Indian media’s unprofessionalism touches heights when it comes to reporting on Kashmir and presenting a grim image of Kashmiris to the national and international audiences. There is a separate selection of vocabulary for Kashmir and Kashmiris be it calling them Pakistanis, terrorists, anti-nationals, atangwadis, namakharaams and what not? All this is done by the so-called top professional journalists sitting on smooth rotating chairs of their glamorous multicoloured digital studios funded and owned by ruling party MPs, MLAs, industrialists and other political parties with an agenda behind the whole conundrum. No wonder the ‘World Economic Forum’ declared the Indian media ‘second most untrusted media’ globally after Australian media for its propaganda of lies, fake news broadcasting, unnecessary exaggeration and distortion of facts while showing a news story.
Cutting short my notion of news as a media student and a proud Kashmiri, I will sum up with an attempt to clear some of the misconceptions and fake blunders being circulated about Kashmir and Kashmiris which perhaps a pseudo nationalistic media will never dare to tell you. Kashmiris are the most hospitable, peace-loving people on earth. Kashmir is gifted with breathtaking beauty, maybe that’s why its called warmest place on earth. We are not Pakistanis; we are just Kashmiris. We are not terrorists rather a terrorised, oppressed, occupied generation who dream to live peacefully, freely and with dignity like any other human on earth craves to live and die for. But, in order to practically experience and realise this dream, you need to turn off your TV set spitting venom against us and pack your bag for a holiday in Kashmir among us, with us!
With love from Kashmir.