(Adapted from a posting made earlier today on the Reader-List, Apologies for Cross Posting)
Even as the Indian state seems to be on the threshold of losing its grip both on hearts and minds in Kashmir and on its own wisdom, we have our own bunch of proud patriots making a heroic effort to convert the column inches of newspapers and the floor space of television studios into their own, special, battleground. Perhaps they might be consoling themselves with the hope that the turf battle of perception management in the media may yet be won, even if Kashmir is lost. Somehow, I am not so sure that this is going to be the case.
Unfortunately for them, to win in arguments, both – the state in Kashmir, and the Indian nationalist hard liners in the media and on other public fora, need some ideas, some attempt at reason, some amount of vision. I am afraid, that so far, neither the state, nor its hyper-loyal editorialists, sound-byte commandos and cyber-footsoldiers, have been able to display any. Instead, we have had bullets in Kashmir, and as I write this, news of midnight raids, arrests and the putting in place of the machinery of a major crackdown tomorrow, on those planning to assemble to protest peacefully on Lal Chowk in Srinagar, and restrictions on the freedom of expression. It is possible that a lot will happen tomorrow and in the next few days that will not filter through on television and the newspapers. It is possible that internet connections will be momentarily ‘down’ and that phone contact with the valley may be suspended. If it is not, then it is imperative that those who are in the valley, especially journalists of major international newspapers witness and report what might happen. If the worst does not come to pass, then, everyone will be relieved, and I really hope that is the case. We must remember, that in 1989-90, major massacres took place in Srinagar and in the rest of India, nobody really knew what was going on before it was too late. It is not as easy today for the Indian state to replicate the news blackout that accompanied the crackdown that took place in 1989, but certainly, the signs are that there might just be an attempt to do precisely that underway.
The PTI report quoted in a story just uploaded on the Indian Express website an hour before midnight, yesterday, 24th August, makes for chilling reading, especially if we read between the lines. It deserves being quoted in its entirety.
Continue reading “I See Kashmir from New Delhi at Midnight”