JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Militants warn Kashmir media over ‘pro-Govt, ‘biased’ reportage
Stern message asks journalists to shun work for Govt and highlight plight of their ‘brethren’
Evoking memories of the 90s, several militant groups fighting government forces in Kashmir have warned journalists of “stern consequences” if they don’t “desist” from reporting and publishing news that weakens the “resistance movement” and “solidifies government’s grip” on Kashmir's affairs.
“The government-paid reporters and news organisations are warned to shun their work for state/Central government, police and security agencies. Instead of strengthening the shackles of occupation, they (journalists) should highlight the plight of their brethren who are making supreme sacrifices in this war,” said a statement received by a local news agency KNS.
It said Abdullah Ghaznavi chaired a meeting in which members of outfits Al-Mansoorian, Al-Arifeen, Al-Nasireen, Save Kashmir Movement, Tehreek-e-Shariat Islami, Tahafuz-e-Shariyat Navaaz, Al-Jabaar, Jehad-Fil-Islam decided to intensify attacks in Kashmir in the coming days.
“We have evidence to back our remarks on these journalists. We’ve the footage of those journalists working for English newspapers who’ve been awarded with government jobs by Indian security agencies. We’ll put this footage in public domain at the right time,” the statement reads.
TEHELKA’s email inquiry to United Jehad Council (UJC)—amalgam of about 14 militant organisations fighting in Kashmir—over whether it endorsed the warning didn't yield any reply.
The militants' warning has come at a time when relations between Pakistan and India are warm and armed revolt in the Valley is on the ebb. The Kashmiri media has often come under attack by militants, police and army over the past two decades of conflict.
Renowned Journalist Yousuf Jameel, who has been covering Kashmir conflict ever since the armed conflict began, said it is not for the first time that such a threat has been issued and that "journalists and other media persons have withstood the hazard".
An accomplished journalist who earned a reputation through his BBC reports in 90s (which also resulted in a parcel bomb attack that was meant to assassinate him), Jameel added that, "At the outset, it is somewhat vague who they (the militant outfits) are referring to. I mean they haven't named the guys of such characteristics. Yet I think it doesn't apply to those in our tribe who discharge their responsibility candidly, whether to the liking of A or B or not. As is rightly said ‘honest men fear neither the light nor the dark."
During recent years, coercion by the state government and its machinery has often resulted in protest marches by journalists. Recently, it was newspaper semantics that the Army’s General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt General SA Hasnain, was insisting reporters to learn. General Hasnain wasn’t happy with the word ‘troops’ used in the press to refer to Army men. “You must write jawan or soldiers instead of troops,” he had said.
In their message, the militant outfits said those funded by the state and its various machinery are publishing images of some “India-sponsored personalities” on their front pages while “intentionally” overlooking the role of freedom fighters.
“They are playing in the hands of security agencies. By involving themselves in such acts these journalists are digging their own grave. They are warned to desist,” the statement said adding, “We’re not talking from far off seas. We are there to chase you like a shadow. No one should take us lightly or misread our prediction as our weakness.”
Baba Umar is a Correspondent with Tehelka.