This is a joint statement of various civil society members of Kashmir regarding the near complete black out by the Indian media and some sections of Kashmir media, regarding the recent report alleged Perpetrators – Stories of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir.
On 6 December 2012, the International Peoples’ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir [IPTK] and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons [APDP] released its report titled alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir that examines 214 cases of human rights violations and for the first time, the role of 500 alleged perpetrators in these crimes. The release of this report, a few days before the Human Rights Day, was an important moment in the ongoing struggle against impunity of the Indian State in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
The struggle against impunity for human rights violations is the struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole. It is a struggle that is required to be supported by all people of conscience who believe in the concept of human rights and the rights of victims of crimes.
Following the release of the alleged Perpetrators report, the reaction of the media raises worrying issues that need to be critically questioned. While the international media carried out extensive reporting of the issues raised, the reporting of the Indian media, and some segments of the Jammu and Kashmir media was extremely disappointing. It is clear that in the Indian media particularly, and some segments of the Jammu and Kashmir media, there was a near complete black out of this report.
Beyond the reaction to this specific report, it is clear that there has been a worrying long-standing trend, exhibited by biased reporting or non-reporting, of human rights work that indicts the Indian State and its functionaries in Jammu and Kashmir. Even for the release of the report on unmarked and unidentified graves in Jammu and Kashmir in 2009, the response of the Indian media was disappointing. It appears that the responsibility for this lies essentially with the editorial management, and possibly less with the actual reporters on ground.
The media forms a very important part of any struggle against impunity, human rights violations and the misuse of State power. Impunity is furthered when the State is not held accountable. This is an important role of the media. Further, the Indian State carries out crimes in Jammu and Kashmir in the name of the Indian people. The media must therefore ensure that people are provided information on human rights violations by the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir, failing which the Indian people might find themselves unknowingly party to criminality and human rights violations.
The media cannot allow itself to be subservient to the diktats of the State. This trend of being subservient is particularly troubling when one considers that certain media houses do in fact exhibit substantial power that could withstand the orders of a State. By following the real or perceived preferences/orders of the State, the media itself stands culpable. The dismal or unprofessional role of the Indian media so far has only endorsed the crimes.
It is also important for the media to inform the public about the real circumstances that are often manipulated by certain sections of the media, resulting in the diversion of their tax money from more pressing social necessities towards unnecessary expenditure.
Similarly, the political formations have also remained silent. On trivial issues all political formations compete with each other to issue statements. But, on this grave issue they have preferred to remain silent and exposed their false support for human rights.
The alleged Perpetrators report, and other human rights concerns are a public issue. Serious debate is needed.