ENCOUNTER, JULOOS & SELFIES
Between two rapes in UP and Jammu, something this shocking escapes headlines. Is media's nationalism a reason?
- Kanwar Manjit Singh
Between two rapes in UP and Jammu, something this shocking escapes headlines. Is media's nationalism a reason?



BETWEEN THE TWO tragedies competing for television time and claiming headline space in newspapers — the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and the rape, kidnapping and criminal intimidation of a 17-year-old girl whose father was allegedly tortured to death at the behest of a BJP MLA in UP – it was easy for this news to slip past us.

In any case, thanks to the peculiar notion of our house-trained nationalist media, news from the Kashmir Valley invariably slips past us.

With twin tragedies competing for your attention, that task became a little easier in the last 48 hours.

Consider these skeletal details and then ask yourself if you had expected better from your favourite newspaper or television channel.
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The civilians went inside the houses from where militant fire was coming earlier. They found the three militants, all alive. One of them was injured.
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An encounter happened in southern Kashmir, in Kulgama district – of course not a very newsy happening since encounters happen there all the time.

It went on for 16 hours – again, not very newsy anymore, since long drawn encounters are also staple news now.

Four civilians were killed in the encounter, and one army personnel also died – well, this used to be newsy, but then how shocked was the rest of India when four civilians were killed on April 1 this year, just about 11 days ago, in a Shopian village when security forces opened direct fire on protesters during an encounter?

More than 60 people were injured. Yes, 60. Sixty.

Sixty people being injured in an encounter now does not make news in Indian media!

But at least another minor detail should have made it newsy, despite our boredom with encounter stories from Kashmir: After 16 hours of exchange of gunfire, and deaths of 4 civilians and one army personnel, no militant was caught. Guns fell silent. Army brought in bulldozers, razed houses, then looked for the dead bodies of militants in the debris. None were found. Army left the scene.

And then this is what happened: The civilians went inside the houses from where militant fire was coming earlier. They found the three militants, all alive. One of them was injured.

All three militants – two riding a bike and the injured one riding on people's shoulders – went around in a procession, clicked selfies and then fled the scene.

You think that was news worthy? Every single detail is available, reported by the best of the newspapers. Here is a link from The Tribune - https://goo.gl/bV8huY.

It is just that because the news is written/edited/displayed by a media that has an ingrained notion of 'nationalism', there is every likelihood that you might miss it.

Now, separatists have called for a shutdown in Kashmir against killing of civilians, the Valley is on the edge, a cabinet meeting has been cancelled, CM Mehbooba Mufti is rushing to Srinagar, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq are now under house arrest, Yasin Malik is in police custody.

All educational institutes have been shut down, today's (Thursday's) exams were postponed by the University of Kashmir, most of the Valley’s shops, public transport and other businesses remained closed in Srinagar and all other district headquarters of the Valley has been shut down.
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Do you think the news story did not merit much space in the Indian media because it was too busy with the tragedies in Jammu and Unnao competing for your attention?
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And the media has long stopped even mentioning that every street and every corner swarms with heavy contingents of police and CRPF, and trains between Baramulla and Bannihal towns come to a stop at the first sign of disturbance, in sync with the mobile internet that now stands suspended in Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama districts.

Two of the four civilians who were killed were teenagers.

The dead soldier has been identified as Sada Gunakara Rao (24), a resident of Andhra Pradesh. 

The four civilians who were killed have been identified as Sharjeel Ahmad Sheikh (26, from Khudwani, Kulgam), Faisal Elahi (15, of Melhora, Shopian), Bilal Ahmad Tantray (18, of Kujar village in Qaimoh), and Ajaz Ahmad Palla (30, of Tulkhun, Bijbehara).

Do you think the news story did not merit much space in the Indian media because it was too busy with the tragedies in Jammu and Unnao competing for your attention?

Now, SP Vaid, the Director-General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, has advised civilians to stay away from the encounter sites in these words:

"No marriage of a terrorist is happening there and bullet has a trajectory. It will hit and will not distinguish between boy, stonepelter, forces.”
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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