Biased coverage of Kashmir unrest in mainstream media leading to attacks on local journalists in Valley

By Raqib Hameed Naik,

Srinagar: Local journalists from Kashmir have often alleged biased reporting of mainstream Indian media as the main reason for frequent attacks on them by the locals. While security forces have shown their ruthlessness when journalists cover their excesses on the people, the people are attacking journalists for being pro-government ‘agents’ and reporting the Kashmir unrest in biased and distorted manner.

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On July 24, Syed Ali Safvi, a correspondent and producer for Iranian News channel, Press TV was ruthlessly assaulted by group of youth at Tengpora, Srinagar.

Journalists covering protest in Downtown area of Srinagar (Photo by_ Raqib Hameed Naik).JPG
Journalists covering protest in Downtown area of Srinagar (Photo by_ Raqib Hameed Naik)

“After seeing Press sticker pasted on the front mirror of the car, protestors turned violent and started hitting the car from all directions. They manhandled and damaged my car beyond repair. We work under extremely difficult conditions but still we have always tried to uphold the principles of free and fair journalism,” said Safvi.

Importantly, the Press TV has always been objective in its reporting on Kashmir, but for people in Kashmir the difference is little, because they perceive journalists as one community; if one commits a mistake, all are to be blamed.

In second week of July, Press TV camera man Aijaz Khan was allegedly taken hostage for few hours along with other journalists inside SMHS hospital in Srinagar by the attendants of patients believing them to be from mainstream Indian News channels.

“We were let off after elders intervened, otherwise we could have been lynched. The biased reporting of Indian media is creating problems for all those journalists who report reality without any hidden agenda or propaganda,” Aijaz Khan told over Phone from Srinagar.

Photo Journalists running for cover from stones pelted by protestors in Srinagar (Photo by_ Raqib Hameed Naik).JPG
Photo Journalists running for cover from stones pelted by protestors in Srinagar (Photo by_ Raqib Hameed Naik)

Another valley-based senior photojournalist, Dar Yasin, working for an international news agency, was thrashed by people near the SHMS Hospital on Friday last week.

Bilal Bisharat Bhat, Editor of valley based news portal, said, “ The biased reportage of Kashmir by the Indian electronic media is the main reason of public anger . When dozens of youths were dying in Kashmir, they were busy in presenting hyper local news.”

Reports of many journalists beaten by security forces have also been coming since the start of the unrest in Kashmir. The PDP’s promise of security for journalists security has also fallen flat.

The united separatist amalgam of Hurriyat G, Hurriyat M and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front on Saturday in a joint statement have asked the people to boycott Times Now, News X and Zee news.
The separatist amalgam lashed out at the channels and said, “these channels are aggressive and bigoted, by design, in their reportage of Kashmir in order to mislead and poison the Indian public opinion regarding the events in Kashmir and the Kashmir issue.”

The spokespersons asked Kashmiris to avoid watching these channels and also called for boycotting speaking to their correspondents or being part of their panel discussions.

Recently, a protest had erupted on July 21 in remote Gurez region of Kashmir against Zee News for a report telecasted on July 19 and portraying that the people of Gurez were opposed to the continuing unrest following the death of young and popular Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in which 55 people have died as of now and more than 3500 people have been injured.
Angry locals who were protesting had alleged that Zee News reporter had bribed a few local army porters and contractors to record anti-movement statement that too recorded inside a BSF Camp which were later telecasted.