Of Scoops and Scapegoats !
When a mediaperson gets a story that no one else has dig up, he is ecstatic. What he gets is known as scoop in journalese. The person having got it has scored romance and glamour about it. It brings him credit and reward too.
And when a police officer on duty gets a scapegoat, what does it fetch him? Publicity, promotion and patronage? 3 Ps for a P-man on Probation. Total adds up more!
After all, what else and what more does make anyone tick in a place like Kashmir! Here, non-media persons also know how to manipulate and turn into a 'celebrity' overnight. They don't need scoops, they need scapegoats. Any soft target, any simple situation that can be twisted into a theatre of absurd. The recent controversy out of tinted glass escort vehicle of KU Vice-Chancellor is a case in point. The selective application of laws and rules in one of the worst lawless state appears just ridiculous.
The place where commoners are literally pushed to wall when the cavalcade of so-called VIPs has to pass on narrow city roads, we wash the dirty linen of 'selective practice' on highways. What a paradox! Cruising pilot cars, red flags, sirens, honks and high speeding SUVs is not just scary but highly life-threatening as well. For the fleet of vehicles ferrying and escorting officials, politicians, police and army, one can question as to how many of these carry proper documents like pollution certificate, insurance blah blah? How many of these vehicles follow the Supreme Court ruling of ban on tinted glasses beyond permissible limits?
You need not to do any research for it when it comes to a conflict area, as is evident all over the roads leading to anywhere in Kashmir. Of course, some would surely justify use of tinted glass, sirens, and non-stop honking for the sake of security. Then, interestingly, by the same logic, justification is to be extended to the event concerning KU Vice-Chancellor. His security was breached and compromised by stopping him on a very sensitive highway, given the violent attacks recurring around the area since many months. In fact, his safety was rendered vulnerable, and it's something that demands a thorough probe without deviating the whole issue into a rigmarole of argumentation that took place on the spot under the full glare of media cameras, which were astonishingly already in place to record and post it on social media.
So, while looking for scapegoats, there is absolutely no need to flaunt the discourse of 'duty-conscious' brand of policing, and that too in Kashmir where the practice of 'ugly policing' during the last five months is still haunting and harrowing.
This incident is not just a simple one. It carries connotations of selective application of rules and selective mutism about events that deserve a strong rebuttal with a rough voice. No sophistication or refinement works when people ride roughshod over your dignity and stature. We in Kashmir have been continuously subjected to such hazardous harassment. Enough of becoming a publicity and success-ladder for anyone who thinks he can recreate a Dabangg script in Kashmir! There has been quite a dreadful Dabanggi going on over here for many a decades. Mind and mark it!
Coming back to scoops, some of them are actually bland, while others could have serious repercussions. In the wake of recent unrest in valley, many of the journos in India displayed mocking belligerence. Analyzing, abusing, gloating, groaning, distorting and dissecting events repeatedly, the reportage exposed the shallowness of their media organizations. Instead of aiding to simplify and disembroil the state of affairs, the media as usual over-played the game of score-setting, just for the sake of remaining in line and earning 'much-admired' TRPs. A TV-war was unleashed to establish a "discourse" that was as usual biased and lopsided, and scripted behind the stage.
Perhaps that's why journalism is not only exciting but a versatile profession too. It is, of course, 'creative'. If you start as a reporter, you start by reporting facts. It you begin as a sub-editor, you become creative in grammar and spellings—a trait that gets so rooted that not all textbooks and stylebooks can curb the instinct.
Just as science moves from discovery to invention, so does a journalist. From discovering facts, you move to inventing them. That's when you get by-lines by the column-fulls, even if what you invent is completely gaga. With experience, luck and designation you move to the higher stage where you venture into 'news analyses'—a sort of comment on the run. At the apogee of this process of 'creative progress', is the front-page editorial: the conversion of ill-conceived judgment into purvey-able editorial wisdom.
Anyway, this is how it all happens until people, working on scoops or scapegoats, become one among the numerous 'prudent and gallant' around. Then your 'opinion and version' is solicited, you are quoted, and mikes and flash-guns eventually make you 'media-savvy'. You, wittingly or unwittingly, become the vital cogwheel of 'message machinery', which marches blindly ahead, crushing thousands of truths beneath, in the wooly war of ideas. You earn everything – from fame to favors. But what you lose is something that you don't deserve to keep!