Pulwama Attack: Why is some media so shy of the truth?

Sections of the media are always quick to defend the rights of those mouthing anti-national statements. Why then are these sections apparently fearful of calling Pulwama a terror attack?

 |  7-minute read |   16-02-2019
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The ‘fidayeen’ attack carried out on the 78-vehicle CRPF convoy by a Kashmir-based Jaish-e-Mohammed suicide bomber, identified as Adil Ahmed Dar, has brought forth certain glaring facts that can no longer be ignored or brushed away.

Despite Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based and internationally designated terrorist organisation, claiming responsibility for the IED attack on CRFP personnel in Pulwama, where over 48 soldiers lost their lives and many were seriously injured, with a video of the 22-year-old Adil Ahmed Dar emerging, wherein he owns up to give his life for why he joined the Jaish, some of the leading Indian newspapers have chosen not to acknowledge either.

Instead, they called it an 'attack' where a 'car bomber' 'killed' troopers and pointed out how the government has 'blamed' Pakistan after a local youth rammed the CRPF-convoy with IED-packed SUV.

pulwama_021519093502_021619103540.jpgWhen will the madness end? (Photo: PTI)

It fully behoves any country’s media to present facts to its citizens — and yet one cannot fathom why India’s newspapers would opt to not mention a terrorist organisation, even after it claims responsibility.

Is this an extension of its attitude and procedure every time questions are raised about the conduct of certain politicians and regular folk (read university students) in the form of statements that sound similar, even if vaguely, to the plans of an enemy state such as Pakistan?

For decades, Pakistan has promoted elements to cause internal strife in India.

Not only has it refused to check radicalism within its own boundaries but has supported it, and funded state as well as non-state actors to cause mayhem in India. It has become adept at using violence, at times, even via organisations based in India, to achieve its political goals.

There is no denying its agenda of pushing for a political change in India by creating a climate of dissent in our society here — in fact, the Pakistan Senate reportedly had a paper put out in the public sphere that recommended the government promote fissures in India to further its game.

When it comes to Kashmir, it has also successfully fuelled religious terrorism masked as 'dissent' — and it has now managed to attract the local youth to carry out its nefarious plans.

stone-pelting-690_10_021619103724.jpgFor decades, Pakistan has promoted elements to cause internal strife in India. (Photo: PTI)

Terrorism is the game of the young and impressionable — nowhere in the world do you hear about 60-year-old radicals strapping explosives to their body and driving into people.

The question to ask is simple — where does one find young people? Educational institutions, colleges, universities, schools — these are the obvious recruiting grounds but one cannot rule out the boundless world of the Internet. Minutes after yesterday’s attack on the CRFP in Pulwama, Basim Hilal, one supposed Kashmiri student from Aligarh Muslim University, was allegedly amongst the first ones to celebrate what is now clearly one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir’s three decades of militancy.

Much like how a segment of the media and a handful of distinguished citizens cried foul during the JNU row — where the government of India probably had enough intel about Pakistan-supported elements being present on the campus along with students — the same quarters already seem to put in place an argument that there might be no direct connection between an AMU student making merry over a terror attack carried out on Indian soil by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, and students of the same or any other educational institution ‘expressing their dissent.’

In yet another blatant example, a few days ago, the usual suspects sprang to defend students of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) when authorities hinted at slapping charges of sedition, following an altercation between two groups. Even before the investigation could be completed into what allegedly happened — some AMU students were reportedly involved in a squabble with reporters of a television news-channel and they apparently also attacked students of their own varsity, said to be on the 'other' side — the sloganeering the assailants indulged in allegedly included cries of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Bharat Muradabad’ — many journalists, media personnel and some politicians too spoke in support of the students, questioning how a charge of sedition was so freely implemented.

In a reaction to what transpired in Pulwama, Amrullah Saleh, who has served as the Interior Minister of Afghanistan, tweeted, “The heinous act of terror in Kashmir has all the hallmarks of a common source & sponsor of terrorism in our region. It is a copy paste of what Pakistan backed terror groups do in Afghanistan. We condemn the attack & convey our condolences to Indian people.”

A former CIA analyst, Bruce Riedel said, “The self-proclaimed involvement of JeM in the attack raises serious questions about the role of the ISI in supporting the masterminds of this operation.”

No matter how terror-proof India was to make its armed forces and safeguard the soldiers, it is not going to put an end to such terror attacks.

The fidayeen would then seek public places, crowded cafes and the like because the root cause of the trouble lies in Pakistan-sponsored local radicalism.

Be it the 'stone pelter' or the 'suicide bomber', the receptive and susceptible youth, Pakistan would like the world to believe the trouble in Kashmir is a local issue.

It is not.

This is similar to the global playbook of religious extremism that has posed similar complications in France, Sweden, Germany, England, Belgium and many parts of Africa. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has busted many ISIS modules in several cities across India where students have traversed from being engineers to welders fabricating rocket launchers in a relatively short span of time.

The media needs to be called out for making issues in Kashmir appear to be about oppression by the Indian state, violation of rights, social disparity, economic constraints and what have you — all the while, the truth lies elsewhere.

This is also not about ‘azaadi’, which Bollywood and new-age fiction would have you believe. These are red herrings thrown by the enemy state and India’s neighbour — Pakistan — that continues to remain one stop short of being held directly responsible.

Not seeing it for what it is worth will push things beyond a point of no return — which we may very well be nearing.

There are some amongst us who would not have liked the manner in which the late KPS Gill went about weeding out extremists and radicalism in Punjab — but the reality is, that had it not been for him, that state would have been lost forever. Unless there is a complete clampdown and cutting off of funding, local and international propaganda and support, both tacit and direct, to local radicalism in Kashmir, our forces, as well as common citizens, would continue to pay a price.

story-kashmir_121718_021619104229.jpg Unless there is a complete clampdown and cutting off of funding, our Jawans will keep on suffering in Kashmir. (Photo: PTI)

The reason I mention Punjab militancy is to help the Kashmiri youth comprehend that when militancy raises its ugly head in any part of India, there will be repercussions — and that is devoid of geographical, regional and religious bias.

Irrespective of what happens in the days to come — like Friday's decision to withdraw the status of 'Most Favoured Nation' bestowed upon Pakistan, or a second surgical strike or any measure that the army may deem fit — it is pertinent to highlight the challenges India faces.

India’s bid to move the United Nations to list the JeM Chief Maulana Masood Azhar as a global terrorist has been blocked repeatedly by China. In 2018, China refused to end its “technical hold” on the ban on Azhar twice. The timing of this Pakistan-supported attack now is anybody’s guess. It could be intended to put the Modi government on the back foot in the forthcoming General Elections, push India into a tariff war with China or a maritime face-off, or any other geopolitical measure.

Keeping China and Pakistan aside — for now — it is also worth noting that the timing of this attack could be designed to impact India’s new strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, basis the upcoming maiden visit of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India to meet PM Narendra Modi. The Crown Prince is expected to ink deals with Pakistan worth US$ 10-12 billion before he arrives in India on February 19.

As I write this, the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in India tweeted — Saudi Arabia condemns the attack on the military convoy in the Indian part of Kashmir. The kingdom is accompanied by the people of India against terrorism and extremism and expresses condolences to the families of the afflicted.

Every step that India takes now would have to balance both fast-changing local and geopolitical realities — as well as the economics around these.

Also read: Maulana Masood Azhar: The man India freed after the 1999 IC-814 hijack is behind Pulwama

Writer

Amrita Bhinder Amrita Bhinder @amritabhinder

Author is a lawyer and the state spokesperson for BJYM, Chandigarh.

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