Kashmir has been caged, now it’s the turn of Kashmiri journalists

Mohammed Rashid

When this world turns out to be a ball in the hands of a few, resistance should be offered from every corner. The young promising photojournalist from Kashmir, Masrat Zahra, was booked by the cyber-police of Kashmir for her stories regarding the day to day developments and situation in Kashmir. Being a journalist has never been easy in Kashmir. After the abrogation of article 370, which granted special status for the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, media activism has been a stifling profession in Kashmir. Masrat Zahra has been covering the bleeding stories of Kashmir, which goes against the normalcy theory, which has been propagated by the Union government of India.

Zahra was booked by the police, alleging that “Masrat Zahra is uploading Anti-National posts with criminal intention to induce the youth and to promote offenses against public tranquility. The Facebook user is also believed to be uploading photographs that can provoke the public to disturb law and order. The user is also uploading posts that tantamount to glorify the Anti-national activities and dent the image of law enforcing agencies besides disaffection against the country.”- The press release by the police reads.

Freelance journalists from the region of Kashmir like Masrat Zahra has shown obtrusive courage and dedication for justice and accountability. The photo stories covered by the Masrat Zahra expose the cruel reality which exists in the valley and how the law enforcement agencies including the state police and the military have created wreak havoc in the region, by using the immunity of draconian and undemocratic laws such as AFSPA and NSA. Such photo stories were certainly explosive and have provoked the far-right central government. There has been a flow of news regarding the detrimental treatment of the government and law enforcement agencies against the Kashmiri journalists, who have told the real stories of Kashmiri plight, which openly contradicts the government version. The present case against Masrat Zahra has to be certainly considered as one such.

Historically, the concept of Media activism and the freedom of the press has been an integral part of a healthy democratic system. Accountability, public scrutinization, criticism has been a quintessential element of a democracy. The role of media activism is to ensure the bitter reality of the society is known to the people, which may receive severe repercussions from authorities. The newborn democracies in the 20th century were quite aware of the role and importance of the role of media activism and have provided certain safeguards and have laid down constitutional provisions to support media activism and the freedom of the press. Article 19(1) (a) of the constitution of India upholds the principle of freedom of the press. The article conspicuously states that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expressions. When the freedom of the press is in an alarming decline, it has to be understood that the nature of democracy is changing and such changes are detrimental to the world.

Socially, the freedom of the press in Kashmir has always been pessimistic. Kashmir is one of the most heavily militarized zone in the world which is under an invasion. When Kashmir acceded to India, the then prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru suggested a plebiscite, in which the people of Kashmir can decide whether Kashmir wants to continue with India or with Pakistan. The supporters of identity politics, namely the supporters of Kashmiriyat have argued that Kashmir wants to stand as an independent nation with its own culture and values.

Historically, India is a land to one of the worst form of cultural fascism, which dates back to thousands of years, that is Brahminism. The epistemology and nefarious cultural values of the Brahminism has an abundantly clear cultural and moral dominance in the very conscience and world view of Indians. The very basic principle of Brahminism teaches its followers to create division and the principles of exclusion are an essential part of it. To quote Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar himself, “I thereby reject my old religion that is Hinduism, which is detrimental to the prosperity of humankind and which discriminates between man and man and which treats me inferior.” While cultural values and morality of Brahminism are worst in its very nature, the Kashmiri culture and civilization, which is highly civilized and competent with democracy and justice make it hard for Kashmiri’s to join in the common cultural fourfold of India, that’s is Brahminism. There is a huge cultural and social difference between mainstream Indians from the people of Kashmir, it can’t go hand by hand.

While the racial division and exclusion of the people as well as the hate towards other culture, the deep roots of islamophobia is an in-built element of modern Brahminism. While the cultural and social elements and concepts of Kashmir and Kashmiri’s are largely biased and influenced by Islamic theology as well as the major population of Kashmir is Islam, there is quintessentially a problem between Brahminic administered India and Kashmir.

Brahminism demand full slavery of every other culture and demand the full ownership and use most heinous forms of force to enslave every segment of people which doesn’t come under the fourfold system of Varnashrama Dharma.

M.S Golwalkar, Who was one of the supreme leaders of R.S.S, the parent organization of the ruling party BJP, in his infamous work “We or our nationhood defined,” count Muslims, Christians and communists as an internal threat of the country. And further he demands that every people who don’t belong to the Hindu religious fold can continue in India as second class citizens, with no voting rights nor any other rights which the constitution guarantees. Unambiguously, the present conflict and unrest in Kashmir have to be read from this angle too to understand the root cause of Kashmiri politics. While when the public conscience that is purely based on the moral and cultural aspects of Brahminism demands the total power of everything and total capitulation of every people and culture, Kashmiri’s have strongly resisted this Brahmanical advancement and have fought bravely for the right to practice and nurture their own culture and tradition. Or in fact, the conflict in Kashmir is never between the people of Kashmir v. the constitution of India nor it’s a battle between bad terrorists and good government, it’s a battle between the people of Kashmir versus Brahminism.

All the present efforts and activities including the mass torture, detention of Kashmiri people, mass rape committed by army men, etc., are simply nothing but the efforts of a Brahminic totalitarian regime to usurp the power and resources of Kashmir and to enslave the people of Kashmir.

In such a situation, every effort which exposes the brutality of the government, which debunk the government-sponsored myths including the story of returning normalcy and the rising terrorist threat, etc. are Anti-national activities in the eyes of a Brahminic totalitarian government. And that’s what really brave and promising journalists like Masrat Zahra have done.

When she is been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her Facebook post (as per the police report she has been booked for posting her photo stories on Facebook), it means she has debunked and questioned the government version of stories from the highly volatile region of Kashmir and have exposed the tear-jerking reality which pertains in the valley. She has made it clear to Al-Jazeera that all the posts regarding the plight of Kashmir people have been published in national as well as international media. In the police report against her, Masrat Zahra told that the police are not ready to address her in the capacity of a journalist, but is hunting her for the reason of her posts on Facebook. Although the term ‘Anti-National’ hasn’t been defined under the UAP act, it’s been used as a weapon to make the detractors of the government and Brahminism mere mute spectators and slaves.

When journalism and media activism is been a mere corporate business matter in contemporary India, journalists like Masrat Zahra are great hope. More than the usual rhetoric of democracy or the freedom of the press, it’s truly a way of resistance by Kashmiri’s against Brahminism. In this battle against Brahminism, it’s quite important to stand with the people of Kashmir, because they are leading the battle with no political power vested in their own hands to one of the most powerful forms of fascist movement ever existed in the globe.

It is doubtful whether the organization of journalists and press authorities of India will stand up to the situation and its ability to offer strong resistance against this hunt for an independent and aspiring journalist. The people who stood for Kashmir and their right to dignity is pessimistic regarding the ability and readiness of the authorities and media persons to stand up to the situation, but even if there are authorities with us or not, the voices should be raised in its most rebellious form for the freedom and dignity of the people, for the rights that have been granted and for the rights that have to be achieved.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mohammed Rashid is a law student at Regional Institute of Management and Technology in Punjab

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