When the State Celebrates the People’s Independence but the People Don’t: Twelve Questions for the Press Trust of India
The Press Trust of India,
This is regarding your news report, “I-Day Celebrated Peacefully in Kashmir Valley“.
While the news report tells us how the celebrations were held by the chief minister in Srinagar and the deputy chief minister in Jammu, and what arrangements were made for the celebrations to take place, there’s one line in that report that tells us:
Meanwhile, normal life was was affected in Kashmir Valley due to a shutdown called by both factions of Hurriyat Conference and tight security restrictions for the Independence Day.
I have a few questions for you.
My questions mostly relate to the basic rule of news reporting, Five Ws and One H:
- Why did the Hurriyat Conference call for a shutdown? Why does your news report not tell us that? Why does the story quote government officials about the flag-hoisting ceremonies, but not the Hurriyat leaders whom you say caused the shutdown?
- How did the Hurriyat Conference managed to enforce such a “shutdown”?
- If it was a mere shutdown “call” without the threat of being gunned down if you opened your shop or walked down for a stroll, it implies that the people voluntarily decided to follow the call, right? In which case, why does the report not say, ‘The people observed a shutdown in response to a call by the Hurriyat Conference’?
- If the people at large voluntarily followed a “shutdown” call, does it not amount to a boycott? Given that the separtists and online Kashmiri forums called it a ‘black day’, why are we not told that in the story?
- I saw another news report that quoted a local as saying, “In reality, the people of Kashmir themselves stay inside their homes.” Why does your report not quote any local to explain why they observed a shutdown?
- Given that our government tells us that the number of militants are negligible in the Valley, and that those going about their ‘normal life’ were not threatened by their lives, why did they en masse listen to the Hurriyat ‘shutdown call’?
- Your headline uses the word “celebration”. What sort of an Independence Day “celebration” is it when the people whose independence is supposedly being celebrated are not celebrating, instead boycotting it?
- If a section of the independent people of independent India are not celebrating their own independence, shouldn’t that be the headline?
- How is it that the Hurriyat Conference holds such sway over the people, because security experts have been telling us how the Kashmiri people’s decision to not heed to the Hurriyat call to boycott panchayat elections was a sign that the “separatists” are becoming unpopular?
- Given that the last line of the report tells us that roads leading to the centre of Srinagar, the Ghanta Ghar at Lal Chowk, were sealed off by the J&K police and the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force, why is the blame of ‘affecting normal life’ attributed only to the Hurriyat Conference?
- Lastly, why does the report describe a shutdown voluntarily as the Hurriyat being responsible for ‘affecting normal life’ but describes the jamming of mobile phones and the internet networks as a mere security measure? Don’t such stringent security measures affect normal life?
- Don’t you think such lop-sided reporting with clear biases of omission and commission come in the way of your readers understanding and appreciating the truth about the political situation in the Kashmir Valley?
Looking forward to your response.