BY: IRFAN QURAISHI
SRINAGAR: The beating, thrashing and abusing a journalist may be new in the parts of world, but in trouble torn Kashmir it is surely not. Quite often the journalists in Kashmir are facing the wrath from security forces, goons and even by the angry public unreasonably. The most recent attack on a senior photo journalist Bilal Bahadur and his colleagues at Nowhata in Srinagar on Friday that too by some unknown goons publically is an eye opener that Journalism in Kashmir is a thankless job.
For those who abuse, beat and blame journalist time and again must introspect and ask their conscience, will they dare to be a journalist in conflict ridden Kashmir Valley. Journalist in Kashmir is victimized from all sides. Whenever there is turbulence in Kashmir, the blames of biased reportage, sensitize reportage, provocative reportage begun. Hence the duty of journalists caught in catch 22 situations become more difficult.
When it is public blaming media for not bringing the truth forth, I want to ask what truth to you is. Is it something what you want to be told at the cast of life of a poor journalist or is it something people of different ideologies want to dictate their mind setup? How many people in Kashmir cooperate with a journalist to narrate the truth without condition of anonymity? And it is the only journalist who carries all sorts of opinions amid all threats and consequences for his people and in return you beat and abuse.
Frankly speaking journalism is not a money minting machine for a poor journalist who works in field to fetch a story of a sufferer or a victim. To be a journalist needs to have courage and patience that too at the cast of personnel life which is always stressed and hand to mouth.
Local media industry in Kashmir has always served and respected the sentiments, ideologies of its people in any political crises or unrest at the cast of their lives, but was it ever appreciated, no, never because it is thankless job. The government advertisements of many local newspapers were stopped for their pro-people stand in political crises. Like in other parts of civilized world, how many people in Kashmir donate for this noble cause, not even a 1%? These are the people who work Day and Night to bright you a story or to bridge you.
Now come to the national media which in Kashmir is most biased and anti-Kashmir. Those who work for these media houses are Kashmiries, your own brothers. Do you want that people from outside should come and report your ordeal, if your own brothers are biased towards you. They are working in staunch too many ideological compulsions with final authorities in New Delhi to decide the faith of the story. You abuse them, beat them, harass them, threaten them but still they report your ordeal to the best of their efforts and power.
The irony is that if a journalist in Kashmir in any case seems pro-people, the rulers are blaming him for provocations. If in any case seems representing the other side story, the people are blaming him for bias. In both cases the journalist is at the receiving end. Narrating a balanced factual story is the job of a journalist; hence carrying all opinion doesn’t make him corrupt. The justice with the ethics of journalism can’t be proven by following the dictatorship from any of the ideology, but with the ‘facts available' without out conditions of anonymity’. People in Kashmir first need to come forward and speak for themselves, before hastily to decide to beat or harass a Journalist for not speaking the truth.
The beating of Journalists by some goons infront of mute spectator like public in Nowhatta is a grave issue. This incident has exposed the dead conscience of our esteemed people which is worrisome for our future. What is the worth of a voiceless common man in this state of affairs where a journalist, the fourth estate has no significance?
If everybody in Kashmir as per different ideologies is a paid agent right from a protester, leader and narrator, then who has to shoulder the responsibility to set the system and sentiments correct? To me it is the public, people of Kashmir who have to begin it from their home rather than to carry on the blame game. Be it men in power or people, gagging or thrashing a journalist will yield nothing other than a shame. World has witnessed despite curbs, the noble profession has grown stronger and nothing has deter it to rise. Merely condemnations won’t work; people in Kashmir must learn to appreciate and cooperate rather than to react hastily after all we are a family.
(Irfan Quraishi is Bureau Chief, Kashmir, for Day & Night News, a Chandigarh-based national news channel.)