Whispers in Kashmir

Film premier & GST Summit in Kashmir is a slap to India media

Sajad Bazaz
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 19 2017 11:23PM | Updated Date: May 19 2017 11:23PM
Whispers in KashmirFile Photo

Amid an atmosphere of uncertainty looming large resulting in sluggish tourist traffic, Kashmir witnessed two unprecedented situations. For the first time in the history of the State premier of a bollywood movie was held in Kashmir on the banks of the Dal Lake. And it was followed by yet another first, when finance ministers of other states headed by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitly met here at the 14th meeting of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) Council to approve the final shape and form of India's most important piece of indirect tax reform.

Both the events have exposed ‘mischief’ of the national media (both print and electronic) wherein they have been promoting Kashmir as unsafe destination to travel. Notably, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has been vehemently criticizing the national media for their negative reporting on Kashmir. Before venturing into the two most important events, let’s have a look at what national media is up to in Kashmir.

Over a period of time, the projection and interpretation of issues by the Indian media, particularly television channels, has really become a problem. The TV anchors freely comment on sensitive issues like nation’s security at the cost of objectivity. They are terrorizing populations in the name of ‘news’.

The situation has deteriorated for the weird comments of a breed of pseudo-analysts in television debates. This kind of journalism based on gossip or rumors was rightly christened by Pope of the Roman Catholic Church as another form of terrorism. 

Now coming to the role of Indian cinema in Kashmir. All is not well with this treasure of entertainment. Fuelling pseudo-patriotism among the Indian masses while digging negativity out of the Kashmir situation through ‘patriotic’ plots in the past one decade or so has only promoted hatred among communities across the country. In fact, it would not be out of place to mention that the growing religious intolerance in the country has its base in the films which contained anti-Pakistan plot having script revolving around terrorism and only terrorism, bringing disrepute to the brand Kashmir.

Amid all this distasteful campaign, after decades it’s Bollywood film ‘Sargoshiyan’ which has showcased the soul of Kashmir in its true form – be it unseen scenic spots or Kashmiryat (especially the religious tolerance which Kashmiris possess). The film is slated for release on May 26 across India and it has showcased Kashmir and its people in a most dignified way. The film has also created history for being the first Bollywood movie premiered in Kashmir, that too at a time when cinema halls remain shut since 1990.

For the first time, a bollywood movie in ‘Sargoshiyan’ has not banked on violence and gun fights in the name of patriotism. The protagonists moving to places has hiked to convey a message that Kashmir is safe to travel and explore places. The movie has done what tourism department’s road shows and other tourism promotion initiatives have failed to do.

Being one of the production members (Creative Head) of ‘Sargoshiyan’ i could feel the radical change in the opinion of the film crew from Mumbai including actors, director, producer and other technical staff about the situation in Kashmir. Since the film has a storyline based on travel to different unseen and unexplored places in Kashmir, the crew, in the first instance, began shooting with caution for the fear of safety. As the time passed, the crew shunned the element of fear and moved fearlessly across places in Kashmir.

Now a word about GST summit, which was organized by Mint – a leading international financial newspaper. It was heartening to listen to the Mint team questioning credibility of the national media, especially the electronic media vis a vis their reporting on Kashmir affairs. ‘We have found nothing life threatening or harassing situation here in Kashmir. What the rubbish is Indian media (especially TV channels) reporting?” said one of the executives of the Mint who was in Kashmir to overlook the arrangements for the conference.

So, the conference, apart from its main theme, has undoubtedly translated into an initiative to promote Kashmir as safe destination to travel. Now the onus lies on these high profile dignitaries, especially the state finance ministers who were here in the conference, to be ambassadors of Kashmir and promote it not only as safest destination but also channelize their resources to halt negative and fake reporting on Kashmir. Let them ask the media to pick positives from Kashmir situation.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)