Who follows media ethics?

The new generation of Kashmir instead of watching television has switched to social media networking sites to become their own messengers to portray truth about Kashmir and give vent to their feelings.
Who follows media ethics?
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The recent controversy between JKLF chief Yasin Malik and a lady television reporter has brought fresh focus on the role being played by national media while reporting Kashmir. There is no doubt that most of the reports on Kashmir situation in the national media are lopsided and oceans away from realities here. This is the main reason why the new generation of Kashmir instead of watching television has switched to social media networking sites to become their own messengers to portray truth about Kashmir and give vent to their feelings.

There is no doubt that some television channels of New Delhi have contributed to build a hostile atmosphere for Kashmiris in rest of the country.  Growing attacks on students in many states is the result of venomous reporting to portray the entire population of Kashmir as terrorists, on sale for making trouble on streets and agents of Pakistan. Frankly most of the debates on Kashmir on these channels are frivolous and full of farce. Most of the pain and the ground realities remain pent up especially in the youth of Kashmir as these television channels constantly provoke teenagers to express their anger.

 Coming back to the recent sting operations on one of the Hurriyat leaders followed by the controversy with Yasin Malik, these television channels have touched a new low so far as journalistic ethics are concerned. These news rooms are either war rooms when they talk about cross border shelling or when they portray joint resistance leadership as agents of Pakistan, they behave like B teams of Indian intelligence agencies.

Embedded journalism is only growing as more and more television channels are getting infected with anti-Kashmir hysteria. Instead of building an atmosphere for grand reconciliation and peace in Kashmir, these news channels have inflicted a death blow even to the tourism industry by declaring Kashmir as a war zone. Even Union Home Minister Arun Jaitley who holds defense and finance portfolios was forced by the ground realities to say that situation in Kashmir was not as bad as being portrayed by some media channels when he was recently in Srinagar in connection with GST mega meeting.

Joint resistance leadership of Kashmir has rightly said recently that 2016 unrest was indigenous, spontaneous and a statement of new generation that they are not comfortable with union of India. Perhaps former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah articulated it much better when he said that youth of Kashmir are not with very idea of India and want to secede from the union. Farooq was blunter when he said that New Delhi should read the writing on the wall and start talks not only with Hurriyat but with government of Pakistan.

In this entire one-upmanship between New Delhi and Srinagar some news channels have become pro-active to facilitate what the policy makers want to do in Kashmir. It seems that these channels are reading from a script and making stories on a pattern. First they attacked trans-border trade the next story was that NIA has unearthed hawala links in that trade. Another story was about Hurriyat getting money and being distributed by Shabir Ahmed Shah. Its follow up was again NIA probe. Then came the "mother of stings" on Nayeem Khan, Farooq Dar etc. It was also followed by NIA team grilling these leaders to know about the financial aspect of the unrest to connect it with Pakistan.  Perhaps Sharad Yadav, former union minister who was in the cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee summed it beautifully when he said that all these news channel stories on Hurriyat leaders was a campaign unleashed by central government to discredit them and to stonewall the efforts of the entire opposition who are stressing for unconditional talks with people of Kashmir.

When the lady journalist tried to corner Yasin and get the answers according to her script, she was only trying to do what she was told to according to resistance leadership. Yasin in the press conference said that all these news channels stories on the resistance leadership was only to divert the attention from the ongoing killings, crackdowns and arrests of students across Kashmir. He was perhaps right when he told media that hundreds of killings, dozens of blinded youth including girls is no story for Indian media but they can debate for hours of their reporter will spot son of a Hurriet leader purchasing rice. Are all these journalists from New Delhi who works for these news channels part of the rescue team for the Indian state and army so that there are no questions asked on their atrocities and hard policy?          

(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre – MERC zaramlk94@gmail.com)

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