The Ostrich Syndrome

There's such a thin line between journalism and propaganda


I was pretty surprised to know that of all the people whom I met in Delhi today, just a day after the BSF shot dead unarmed civilians and injured many people protesting against the desecration of the Holy Quran in Gool area of Ramban Distrcit in Jammu, not even one was aware of the gross tragedy and the aftermath of it in the state of J&K. I will not go into figures because that is irrelevant when we believe that every life is precious. The National Media seems to be avoiding doing much about it and it makes me wonder how they suddenly spring to life during controversies regarding rock bands or Fatwas passed, or the attacks on CRPF Bunkers and Army convoys in the Valley.There's such a thin line between journalism and propaganda. It reminds me of the Ostrich syndrome where an ostrich buries its head in the sand in an attempt to forget pressing issues and pretends that all is fine. It kind of saddened me. I recalled my own words of advice to my journalist friends to start paying attention to the problems people outside the Valley face. “Start writing about global problems and difficulties which other communities in the world face. How would you expect them to show solidarity with you if you do not extend yours towards them”is what my advice would be. I felt touched and happy recently when I saw almost every journalist in Kashmir writing extensively and extending solidarity sincerely to the victims of Kedarnath. Every newspaper and every online portal carried the news for several days. They did it because they felt the pain. I do not care whether anyone in Delhi noticed it or not but I did. It made me feel nice because this was exactly what I had been trying to make them understand.
Today why does it feel like I am eating my own words? Today, why are people from all over the Nation not extending their solidarity towards Kashmiris? Why is the media not paying adequate attention to them? Have journalists sold their souls to the Devil or are students of journalism not being taught about the ethics of journalism lately?
Today it has dawned upon me finally why the journalists in Kashmir are particular about reporting every detail for days when a tragedy befalls the State. It has probably resulted as a psychological reaction to the accumulation of memories of too many years of being ignored by the national media when they are wronged against but the same media highlighting the Valley for all the wrong reasons in front of the entire Nation.
Nothing much will change if this trend continues. When will people sense that it is fear which begets hatred and when people feel insecure and fearful, it breeds more and more resistance and hatred. People In Delhi or any other city over the length and breadth of the country continue to go to work and children to schools, cinema halls are packed as usual, coffee shops and pubs continue to do great business over the weekends, shopping malls keep bursting at the seams, all seems normal, while at the same time, a tiny Valley at the northern most tip of the country has been silenced indefinitely. A child gets up knowing he has to miss school for an unsure tenure, a woman wakes up wondering whether she would be able to procure milk to feed her children with, a vegetable seller who is leading a hand to mouth existence wonders where he would get his next meal from, a few young boys get a little more insecure about their futures and a few more fathers offer prayers asking for the long lives of their sons and hope they are not the next in line to shoulder their son’s coffins. And yes, appropriate to mention that a few more orders will be passed for enquiries into the incident and once again, assurances will be given that strict action will be taken against the perpetrators and the divide between the Valley and the rest of the Nation will increase a little further.
Even as I write this, a song sung by Eddie Murphy plays in my mind “I want to break free. I want to break free from your lies. You’re so self-satisfied I don't need you. I've got to break free. God knows I want to break free”
And life still goes on.
The writer can be reached at

Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 20 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 21 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST

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