Beyond the Beauty: An Outsider’s View of the Lost Paradise

While reporting Jammu & Kashmir, the entire focus is on Pakistan and Pakistan sponsored terror and while doing so the media has undermined the legitimate demands of Kashmiris for self-determination.
Beyond the Beauty: An Outsider’s View of the Lost Paradise
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"Behind every president who ignored mass murder were millions of citizens whose indifference allowed them to get away with it. It's not fear of losing American lives in battle that necessarily deters us from acting."  – Paul Slovic

The national media in reporting the Kashmir is charged with reporting it from the narrow prism of nationalism, national security and national interest. While reporting Jammu & Kashmir, the entire focus is on Pakistan and Pakistan sponsored terror and while doing so the media has undermined the legitimate demands of Kashmiris for self-determination. Media has played to the tunes of the state in de-recognizing the conflict in Kashmir which is one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world. For the Indian State, it is just a law and order problem but you don't need army to solve a law and order problem. It is high time that the Government and the people of India at large recognize this conflict which has done more harm to India, to Kashmir and to Pakistan than good. 

Kashmir from an outsider view is a good holidays spot. Nothing can be beautiful than the mesmerizing beauty of Dal Lake. Tourists, both from India and abroad, come and go.  They say it Jannat, 'the heaven on earth.' But they are not able to see this Jannat beyond its beauty. Every time you walk around the Dal, you feel that there is so much beauty in the world to be explored. But then you see the army men in the surrounding areas your mind gets distracted and you are lost in different thoughts which is certainly not the good one.  As an outsider or as a tourist Kashmir can be a heavenly place. But when one get deep into the uprooted problems in the valley, the conflict gets deeper. As an Indian, we claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India. But what makes it not an integral part of India is still a big question? 

Kashmir problem is as old as the freedom of India. For many years it has remained a Centre Stage between India and Pakistan. In this military flooded state, the army has been accused of misusing its power and gross human rights violation is common. I have visited Kashmir University for my research work and I have heard many a times anti-India slogans like Go India, Go Back Indian dogs, Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan Murdabad, Jeeve Jeeve Pakistan etc. One does not get angry on listening to these slogans but needs to understand why they're raising these kinds of slogans. Indians are not even aware of the kind of atrocities the Kashmiris suffer because even our media does not show that. You can't expect every Indian to go and look for a regional newspaper to know the reality of Kashmir. The media plays a key role in conflict situations. It can contribute in the awareness and alleviation of those affected by the conflict. The role of media and other important stakeholders in dealing with this issue calls for questions of judgment. Sensitivity and awareness is required on their part. Much can be done for this issue by simple acts of co-ordination by the different stakeholders in the society mainly the media, the activists and the civil society. 

Once again the valley is under curfew followed by the massive protest over the killing of a Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani. Protests and unrest in the valley is not uncommon but this time it is unprecedented in many ways, most notably in a manner people are protesting and then in the manner the pellet guns are being used to dispel the crowd. I travelled to Kashmir first time in 2010 and witnessed the conflict myself apart from the dazzling beautiful Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Srinagar. What was so unpleasant was the presence of Army all over the city, outside the eating places, in the middle of the road, outside the residences and everywhere else. 

We don't see a scenario like this in Delhi or other cities of India. Before my visit in 2010 I was not even aware of the kind of conflict the Kashmir has. My first my visit to Kashmir showed me a different picture of Kashmir which is the real Kashmir, the Kashmir entangled in the armed conflict. As an Indian we cannot remain indifferent towards the brutal killings of Kashmiris in the name of law and order. Media cannot just portray one side of the picture and influence the public opinion against Kashmiris. They have to be loyal to their profession and tell their readers or viewers both sides of the story.

(Shipra Raj is a Research Associate at Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)

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