BY: IRFAN QURAISHI
SRINAGAR: The alleged beating of a journalist in Srinagar by the security guards of state Agriculture Minister Ghulam Nabi Lone on Monday hit headlines was surprisingly trendy in media fraternity of Kashmir valley. The journalist’s beating in Kashmir has never been an issue for anyone, so how it is this time. Is it unity or selective biased approach within media fraternity of Kashmir?
Pertinently the security guards of state Agriculture Minister Beat a senior journalist, Javid Malik of leading English daily (Greater Kashmir) based in Kashmir when they argued with each other over the delay in giving passage to the cavalcade.
The social networking platforms like face book, twitter were full of condemnation and solidarities. Almost all leading news agencies and newspaper on national and local level gave a prominent coverage to the incident. Undoubted the use of force and beating of a journalist is highly condemnable and unlawful and I strongly condemn it. But I have a simple question , why journo's in valley shout slogans of unity only when it is about prominent one's, why not in case of others?.Are not they part of the fraternity or you don't value them.
The media campaign run by the media houses in this case of journalist’s beating indicates as it was the first incident in the trouble torn sensitive Kashmir Valley. This is a well known fact that scores of journalist have been brutally beaten, attacked by the different wings of security personnel’s in past while discharging their professional duties, but remained unnoticed, unheard. Ironically, the beating of journalist’s in past hardly made headline followed by a sturdy media campaign.
On the other hand what were new and surprising are the condemnations from almost all main stream political parties and even separatist groups besides civil societies, trade unions. From every walk of life the solidarity were expressed and action was demanded in to the incident. A protest demonstration against the unlawful and highhanded act was also registered by the dozens of Journalists including men from senior lot at the historic clock tower in city center Lalchowk. They were also joined by the members of civil societies, trade unions, political parties.
Javid Malik no doubt is a senior and prominent journalist in valley, but the media trial of Malik’s beating exposes selective and biased approach of Media houses in valley and Kashmir based reporters of leading national media orgaisations towards journalists working in conflict ridden valley. Even politician followed the trend this time smelling an opportunity to poke their nose for their ulterior motives. The same leading English daily is known for not giving any news weightage to the issues pertaining to the journalists or journalism in valley. And today’s call for unity from the same media house is hard to digest as it seems more selective than a collective voice for justice with the noble profession.
Hardly anybody know about the journalist who faced the wrath of security forces in past and were left on God’s mercy by the Kashmir based media fraternity. Recently on June 19, 2015, Eshan Peer, a photojournalist was thrashed by CRPF when the former was taking pictures in main chowk Sopore.
On 27 March, 2015, Kurshid Qureshi, a journalist by profession was beaten to pulp by the security guards of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura when he urged a top security guard to make friendly behavior, after he found former beating an attendant at the premises of most visited hospital of the Valley.
On March, 26, 2013, Muneeb ul Islam, a photojournalist was beaten up by Police when he was covering the protests in Anantnag Kashmir, over the death of a youth. There was no hue and cry over these three incidents of beating a journalist and hardly any solidarity statement or condemnation.
Earlier on Sep 27 2012, another journalist Azhar Qadri was allegedly assaulted by Police Officer in Srinagar, while he was covering a protest by nursing students at the Old Secretariat. On December 3, 2011, Shahid Tantray, a photojournalist, Umer Mehraj, working as a video-journalist, and Yawar Kabli and Showkat Shafi — both freelance photojournalists were “ruthlessly” beaten by CRPF personnel and the police in old city.
Baring few media houses they were associated with and briefly condemnation from Photojournalists Association, these scribes left with no support and hardly any unity call from anywhere. There are many such other cases of wrath faced by the journalists in valley which were never given so much of importance.
There is need of a sincere bonding and unity within the Media fraternity of Kashmir, unless the journalists in Kashmir will not treat each other equal and precious, the fruit of unity will never yield. Let’s pledge to be one and to save, support each other and to maintain the respect of this noble profession without any bias and prejudice.
(Irfan Quraishi is Bureau Chief, Kashmir, for Day & Night News, a Chandigarh-based national news channel.)