Reporting Kashmir: “Ringing bells to deaf ears”

Srinagar: Media has a key role to play in the development process and bringing peace in the region by depicting the real picture in front of its audience but sadly Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory particularly Kashmir region has been a victim of media’s ‘hateful journalism’.

The misinterpretation of facts and portrayal of situation presented by sections of media on Kashmir has creating varied perceptions among people around the world about the region. Although media has been playing an important role in creating the civil societies and development of the Kashmir region particularly whole Union Territory at large large.

Media has always been an important element in conflicts of every nature and intensity. It has evolved as a dominant factor in shaping up the conflicts, managing or conflating them. In the contemporary times of rising domestic and international conflicts, its significance is transcending limits.

The World’s first exposure to wide scope of the media came during the First World War—the first major global conflict in the history of this planet. The nations-at-war exploited media to run propaganda against the enemy nations; to garner support for the war; and for justifying the continuation of the combat till its end. The governments ensured that masses, including their countrymen, got only what they wanted them to know about the war. Truth became the first causality as media content was engineered from the power corridors to suit a particular ideology.

Kashmir issue, which is a seven decade old unresolved disputed territory between India and Pakistan, the media has an important role to play in Kashmir in terms of reporting human rights violations, representing the public sentiments, and keeping a check over the excesses that the civilians living in this region usually face in any conflict situation.

In Kashmir, the media landscape is dominated by two major players—the local newspapers and the national press and each has been covering Kashmir conflict from different angles, thus creating varied perceptions about the situation in the region.

The local media has been presenting a local view point on the history of Jammu and Kashmir, the association of Kashmir with the neighbouring nations, the migrations within and beyond the valley, encounters, combats, human rights abuses, and the causalities. On the other hand, the National media has reported the situation in Kashmir with a partial approach, narrating only what fits the official policy, and ignoring anything, howsoever closer to reality, that hurts the interests of India as a nation or is in breach of the official policy. And consequently, the true picture from Kashmir has remained largely untold, creating a mental and ideological divide between people of Jammu and Kashmir and of the India as a whole.

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