Freedom: of the Press is considered sacrosanct and in a modern capitalistic society the Press is described as the fourth Estate, says Krishen Dev Sethi, an Indian writer in an article headed “Kashmir and National Press”, in the Kashmir Times Jammu. The inverted commas on the word “national” are also his, which means like many others, the writer thinks that what is called the national Press of India, is national only in name.

Only some weeks ago, a grand reception was given in honor of Pressmen of India by Jagmohan, the Indian Governor of Kashmir, who is known for his anti-Muslim actions while he was Lt. Governor of Delhi during the regime of Mrs. Gandhi. He and Sanjay Gandhi, the brother of Rajiv, had chosen to make the Muslims of India the targets of their activities.


Jagmohan left no stone unturned to please the Indian Pressmen in Srinagar, so that they do not give the people’s version of the shape of things in Kashmir to the Indian public and the world at large. Writes the independent and ardent Krishen Dev: “There is a deliberate attempt to keep Indian public Opinion unaware of maladministration, irregularities, excesses committed and undemocratic and anti-people measures taken under the present Governor’s rule whose existence hardly falls short of an authoritarian and despotic regime. The correspondents and representatives of outside (means Indian other than Kashmiri) papers deputed in this State are engaged in an unsavory exercise of presenting an inflated and refurbished image of the Governor’s rule, as was done to eulogies the Viceroy during the British raj. By doing so, they are only adding insults to the injuries of the people of the state”.

But everything is not wrong only with the correspondents and reporters stationed in Srinagar and Jammu. By themselves, the Indian “national” newspapers have been giving a distorted picture of the events and happenings in Kashmir to their readers, from the very beginning of the Indian hold on Kashmir. Says Mr. Sethi: “What the Press is doing now is nothing new. With regard to Jammu and Kashmir it has always adopted a lopsided view and given partisan and one-sided version”. (Emphasis mine).

The writer has recalled that from 1947 to 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was extolled by the Indian Press as an infallible angel and all the misdeeds of his government were covered up. But when Abdullah fell from grace, the Indian Press dubbed him as a foreign agent, a communalist and as a conspirator and traitor, forgetting all his “good” points.

In the early fifties, the Praja Parished agitation, which had been started by feudalist’s on whom the axe of land reforms by Sheikh Abdullah had fallen was described as a popular revolt.

The present Governor of Kashmir, who is most unpopular and who has brought the State of Jammu and Kashmir to the verge of a precipice, has been described by the “national” Press of India as the Messiah of Kashmir and all good points and adjectives are used in his favor.

The good writer from Jammu has missed one point and that is that the national Press of India is only a Hindu Press. To the Press. Magnates of India, minorities do not mean anything. They are something less and something worse than minorities. This is why news and views favoring the Muslims. Of India seldom find place in the columns of the national newspapers. Whenever there are Hindu Muslim riots in the country, the “national” Press espouses the cause of the Hindu majority and dubs the Muslims, and other minorities, as villains of the piece.


When some members of the scheduled castes of India, in South India, for instance, accepted Islam as their religion at their own sweet will, the Hindu Press was in a turmoil and to counter the wholesale conversion of hundreds of scheduled castes to Islam, the Hindu Press found a hero, who, they said, had converted himself from Islam to Hinduism. Later on it transpired that this man had been a Hindu first and when he took up the personal service of a rich Indian Muslim, he became a Muslim but later on, the Hindu Samaji leaders prevailed upon him to effect an abouttum to Hinduism and there was a great fanfare in the Hindu Press, misnamed national Press about the man.

And the position of Kashmir is that majority of its population consists of Muslims. Therefore, all reports, comments and even editorials which appear in the Indian Press about Kashmir are jaundiced and one sided.

Kashmir has been in turmoil since the Babri Masjid in India was converted into a temple. It was during those days that G.M. Shah, then the Congress aided Chief Minister of Kashmir, ordered the construction of a small mosque in the Jammu secretariat so that Muslim employees of the Government could offer their prayers in it. This was more than the Hindu regime at New Delhi and the Hindu Press of India could tolerate. The mosque was instantly demolished. And another mosque in the Srinagar Secretariat was locked so that Muslism employees could not use it for prayers. It is under lock and key even to this day.


Kashmiri Muslim employees were in Hindu city of Jammu in those days. They were attacked and humiliated. Their money was snatched away. Some of them, including Muslim ladies, were disgraced on roadsides and stripped naked. This resulted in some reaction in the Muslim majority areas of Kashmir Valley, when some temples in villages were attacked. There was a great hue and in the Hindu Press and reports appeared that the Pandits of Kashmir were ready to migrate to India.

The result was that poor G.M. Shah was kicked out of power. He died an unwept and unsung political death. He was thrown out because the Indian rulers and the national Press of India discovered, to their dismay, that Shah had not been able to protect the Hindu minority of the Valley of Kashmir. It is to be noted that not a single Hindu received even a scratch but the Chief Minister, who was enjoying the Congress support since July, 84, was pushed out in a most unceremonious manner.

The Indian Press and leaders will have to realize that Kashmir is an international dispute and will have to be tackled as such by having meaningful talks with Pakistan. As long as the Indian Press dishes out fake and fabricated reports and comments to the Indian people, the stalemate will continue and throw the chances of a lasting settlement into jeopardy.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 20, 1987