From Jaipur to Pune – A tribute to the double-standards of Indian media

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Last week the Akhil Bharatiya Parishad {the students wing of the Hindu Extremists BJP) and Panun Kashmir (the self styled representative of outside-state Pandith Community) forced the Symbiosis College of Pune first the cancellation of the documentary on Kashmir, Jashnn-e-Azadi, and the entire seminar on Kashmir, where it was to be screened. They argued that the filmmaker Sanjay Kak’s documentary projected the militants in the valley as heroes and was ‘critical’ of the Indian army, which, they said, was not ‘acceptable’.
As it proved, the college caved in to the diktats of communalist forces even without putting up a semblance of a resistance. The college authorities rather the hosts’ succumbing that easily is a sad commentary on the image of the noted college which runs a course for journalism. It seems, of late, a symbiosis of sorts developed between college and saffron brigade which forked Kashmir off the gaze in Pune. Otherwise, given the will and a brave face it was improbable a pack of fanatics could have succeed in launching an assault on ‘freedom of expression’ one can enjoy in a ‘democratic India’.
Indian media has once again been adopting a double standard and being jaundiced on anything on Kashmir. From Jaipur to Pune it was a different story telling. The dominating discourse on ‘Muslim fundamentalism’, ‘Muslim extremist’, ‘intolerance’, that the Literature Festival was rotated around for its entire time period in Jaipur was not matched with unleashing of same venom and ridicule towards the ‘dark forces’ that won hospitality of the organizers at Pune. Though media took note of the development in Pune and painted it violation of freedom of expression, nonetheless the debate was not stretched beyond a point, unlike we saw in case of pink City of India or, the cocktail of hate served to Kashmiris in the panel discussions and the news analysis when last year Harud festival met the local resistance.
The liberal fundamentalism which was at its best when the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival barred a video conference with Salamn Rushdie (whose controversial book stands already banned in India) seemed stung in raising their forceful voice though Jashn-e-Azadi was not banned in India. The champions of freedom of expression zipped their mouth even when the seminar ‘voices of Kashmir’ was aborted. From a seminar on Kashmir it was likely a different stream of viewpoint would have gushed out. After all Sanjay Kak was not a representative of Hurriyat. But still his viewpoint was not bearable for organizers. And the tepid interest bordering on connivance and indifference on part of news channels and print media shows their complicity in making Kak’s film flop.
While a vilification campaign against muslim ‘intolerance’ was at its highest at the JLF, directly beamed out by various channels, the glib tongued anchors left nothing unsaid while condemning the act. That wasn’t the case when the same happened at Pune.
In comparison, the powerful media did not lose sleep when a bunch of Hindu extremists threatened violence. They did not ask to rein in the religious fundamentalists the way they did a week or two before. We did not see, in case of Pune, any editorial urging Indians to stand up for Sanjay Kak like the one screaming, ‘Stand up for Salman Rushdie’. Judged in the contest that Jashn-e-Azadi has not hurt the religions sentiments of any community as did the filthy pen of Rushdie. The hypocrisy of Indian media was too stinking to be covered up by any gimmickry.
Kak’s documentary only aimed at presenting Kashmir to Indians. It didn’t glorify anyone as a hero, it just showed the things as they are.

author-pic Hassan Zainagiree
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