Kashmir: Of Deception and Occupation

India has long used mass media as a tool for psychological warfare projecting the Kashmir resistance as if it was some sort of Pakistani conspiracy to destroy India's peace.

Kashmir: Of Deception and Occupation

Tavseef Mairaj

Occupations do not survive just by means of military might. They need to cultivate, and manufacture consent among the general masses who they are, in theory, responsible and answerable to. Without consent, there would nevertheless be some non-conforming voices which would make the survival of the occupation more difficult. In this context, lionising and glorifying every action of the occupying forces, discrediting and even denying the existence of a resisting voice forms an important constituent of the strategy of manufacturing consent. Hence, the popular mass media plays an important role and acts as a faithful arm of occupation without which its survival would be lot less easier.

India has been using mass media for its psychological operations, or psychological warfare, with regards to Kashmir for long and continues till date. In order to maintain its military stranglehold in Kashmir, the use of deception now seems to be an important part of the state strategy. The language and choice of words used in official statements, the headlines in the mainstream media, and the press notes from the armed forces correspond to each other with an alarming accuracy. The state makes a wish, the media creates a favorable discourse, the forces execute, the media creates confusion, the killers are deemed innocent, the killed one is blamed for getting killed, the state is happy and readies for the next move. It is a vicious circle.

Recently, some resistance leaders from Kashmir were invited by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi for Pakistan Day celebrations. Commenting on this, the external affairs spokesperson termed the resistance leaders from the Hurriyat Conference as 'leaders of the so-called Hurriyat'. This use of language of denial by a top diplomat gives us an idea about the extent of denial India wants to impose on its people when it comes to Kashmir. Any dissenting voice is rejected by either calling it anti-national or by silencing it. And when they cannot silence it, they want people to believe that it does not exist.

Masarat Alam, a popular resistance leader, was released after more than 4 years of illegal detention recently before being rearrested. On the eve of his release, which was a rare occasion of law having followed its course in Kashmir albeit taking more than 50 months, the Indian media went out of its way to condemn his release and projected it as some sort of a lease of life provided by the new government to 'separatists'. It even went on to suggest that he was the man responsible for the killing of over 120 Kashmiris, who were killed by Indian forces during the 2010 uprising against the Indian rule.

Masarat has since been rearrested on the charge of waving a Pakistani flag during a rally in Srinagar. And now his rearrest is being projected as some sort of a tough measure by a tough government. State is happy that a dissenting voice has been silenced and the newsrooms are happy with the attention they are getting. And in the midst of all this nobody talks about the killings its military forces continue in Kashmir. Nobody wants to ask why Indian forces are killing civilians, firing bullets on unarmed teenagers in Kashmir.

Of late, India has found a new issue to discredit the resistance movement of Kashmiris. In an atmosphere of internationally prevalent Islamophobia nurtured by certain groups, India is cashing in on the opportunity once again, to present the resistance movement of Kashmiris as an Islamist separatist movement. In this context, the issue of Kashmiri Pandits is used as a tool to create the discourse. An overwhelming majority of Kashmiri Pandits left Kashmir when the armed resistance against Indian rule started in Kashmir, in the early 1990s. Ever since, common people and the resistance leadership alike have been asking the Pandits to return. India, however, is using the Pandit issue to whitewash its hands of the brutalities it has commited in Kashmir and turn the tables over on Kashmiris.

By presenting the return of Kashmiri Pandits to Kashmir as the single biggest issue, India is trying to wash its hands off the massacres, mass rapes, disspearances, assasinations and extra judicial executions which have been the highlight its military stranglehold on Kashmir, particularly in the past 3 decades. Its plan of settling Pandits in separate composite townships as opposed to organic resettlement has been met with opposition from Kashmiris living in Kashmir, across the religious divide, in unison. In this context, Kashmiri Muslims are being projected as dangerous Islamists of international jihadist fame who expelled the non-Muslim Kashmiri Pandits from their homes and oppose their coming back. However, this bunch of lies falls flat against the fact that tens of thousands of non-Muslims stayed put in the Kashmir valley throughout these decades and are still living in harmony in Kashmir.

It is now a normal feature of the mainstream Indian media channels to have a Kashmir debate on prime time. And in these debates, certain Hindu right wingers are presented as representatives of Kashmiri Pandits who then go on with their anti-resistance insinuations. Debate after debate, the Kashmiri resistance is projected as some sort of a Pakistani conspiracy against a peaceful Indian democratic project in Kashmir. On the contrary, when Indian forces torture and kill unarmed civilians in Kashmir, such news finds no mention in the prime time debates and is relegated to news tickers on the tv channels and a minor sub-headings in the newspapers. And even when the issue of civilian killings by Indian forces in Kashmir does come up, the blame is squarely put on the resistance leadership, without a single word of condemnation of the excessive force used by Indian forces. Such newsroom discourses only serve to reinforce the state narrative on Kashmir. It serves to maintain India's military stranglehold on Kashmir. It perpetuates occupation through deception. Deception feeds the occupation.

And Resistance, resistance needs no deception. Resistance feeds resistance. It lives in its own right.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Nisan 2015, 12:30