January 15, 2020

Kashmir media’s neutrality: Unexplained

The neutrality of media in Kashmir has come under public scanner in the backdrop of the meeting of some editors with European Union (EU) delegations twice in last six months after the bifurcation of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state into two union territories and withdrawal of special status under article 370 and 35 A on August 5 last year. Since the decisions of the incumbent central government on bifurcation of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state into two union territories is purely political, the meetings of editors of some valley based newspapers with two European Union (EU) delegations has triggered a debate in public circles over the neutrality of the heads of such newspapers in valley. As the newspapers in valley are known for going against previous political regimes during Amaranth land row uprising in 2008, summer unrest in 2010 and civilian unrest in the year 2016, the editors and reporters of valley newspapers were expected to also show respect to larger public sentiment after the bifurcation of the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state into two union territories and withdrawal of special status under article 370 and article 35 A. Editors of few newspapers attending the meet with European Union delegations without their other contemporaries in attendance is creating an impression of a vertical divide between the government’s likes and dislikes in Kashmir media. To demonstrate institutional and profession neutrality media has to be witness to change in any political and socio-administrative scenario and it’s criticism on policies and decision of the government has to be on merits, logics and reasons. Above all media has to generate public opinions for promotion of the institutional and administrative transparency but it has not to become necessarily part of a bigger opinion suiting the decisions and policies of the government on the working of constitutional and administrative institutions anywhere in the country.
Even naives know it that the policies and decisions of the government in a democracy are always subject to public criticism and the role of media as the fourth pillar of democracy comes under public scanner the time when people don’t see government respecting their both political and apolitical wishes and aspirations. When the tendencies of the journalists go against the basic spirit of public interest, the very basic spirit of media’s neutrality comes into questions and such tendencies of journalists are viewed strongly by the people in general and intelligentsia in particular. Unfortunately editors of few newspapers in Kashmir have by meeting delegations of European Union (EU) with their other contemporaries not in attendance twice in last six months brought the neutrality of entire media in Kashmir under public scanner.

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