A History of the State-Media Link in Kashmir
Keywords:Kashmir, Media, Borderland, State, Censorship, Hegemony, Conflict
For decades, the media has been a powerful agency in presenting Kashmir and shaping views in the national and the international imaginations. Recognising the complex multiplexity of the influences on the media that report on Kashmir, this work is an endeavour to examine the history of the media’s relationship with the state through Archival Research. Documents accessed from Srinagar’s Civil Secretariat’s media section of the archives unravel the state’s attempts to establish a relationship with the media in the militarised region since the early 1950s. This research sheds light on the nature of the association between the media and the state, as this understanding is crucial in understanding any conflict region. Hence, it becomes necessary to uncover the trajectory of power, as well as the nuances of histo-political nature of the liaison between the two entities that have contoured the narrative on this region of conflict.
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Information Department. (1951, August 28). Letter No: 202/B/51. To The Principal Information Officer, J&K Govt., Srinagar, Reference to your no: IBC/3213/51, dated 18-8-1951 by Law Secretary. The long Urdu poem titled by Munshi Biyabani Ab Kashmir Ka (Now of Kashmir), abolished in weekly paper Kashmir Mail Jammu of 10th August 1951 has been examined in this department. The writer has used words such as zulam, sitam, Muzalman in this poem. Another poem called In Kashmir by the same writer about which opinion was expressed by the law department vide U.O no: 202-B/51, dated 16.8.51…. It is not a fit case for taking action under the Press & Publications Act. Apart from the legal view stated above, it may be pointed out that the paper Kashmir Mail Jammu, in which the poem is published is a very ordinary paper and its circulation is very limited. To take action against such an ordinary paper is to bring it in the lime-light and give undue publicity to it which it hardly deserves. Besides, in view of the coming elections perhaps it will not be expedient to take any action at this time. English reading of some of the verses of the poem is given as follows: “The tyrannies that are being perpetrated in Kashmir by responsive officers outdo even Satanic misdeeds. There has grown a settled tendency on the part of these responsible officers to harass individuals… The cruelties perpetrated on the people are described to be “of a shocking character”. Crime is alleged to flourish ‘unchecked’ as a consequence of offenders being ‘let off’ without punishment. The last stanza also makes a reference to the inhuman cruelties resorted to by officers of Government. The officers are described to be “beasts of prey continuing their depredation when life is almost extinct in their victims”. Retrieved from the archives in April 2015.
Information Department. (1954, June 10). Letter No 619/C. From the Superintendent of Police Anantnag to Director Information and Broadcasting about the display of propaganda films in villages and request to send police in advance to maintain law and order. Mysterious persons shouted anti-government slogans and a minor skirmish took place. Retrieved from the archives in April 2015.
Information Department. (1954a, July 12). Letter No IB/3970-72/54. To Chief Secretary Srinagar, Education and Health, from Director Information for granting of permission for printing newspapers. There should be no mushroom growth of such newspapers which seek to bring the Government into disrepute through scurrilous writings or otherwise threaten public order and public security in the state. Conditions prevailing in the state are very different from other parts of India. Security deposit of Rs. 1,000 forfeited if paper indulges in objectionable writing as per Section 15(A) of the Public Security Act. Retrieved from the archives in April 2015.
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Information Department. (1964, June 13). File no 10 72/66 GO MS No 1089. Confidential Report. Minutes of a meeting on the state’s Administrative Policies of the media between Commissioner, Kashmir, Officer on Special Duty Information and Broadcast, Government Of India, Secretary to Government, Home Department, Deputy Principal Information Officer, Government Of India, Station Director, Radio Kashmir, Director Information, Srinagar, Public Relations officer, Armed Forces, Secretary to Government, Information Department and major A. S. Agnihotri of the Indian Army. The state aimed to conceal from the public and what it wanted the local media to circulate to the level of a spectacle for the national and foreign press. This practice had been instituted to drown out any unfavourable coverage by the press, thereby keeping the public in the dark about vital facets of the conflict that shape their perception. An excerpt from the letter shows the scrutiny that entailed the “management” of foreign reporters. Concepts on propagation of peace, normalcy, tourism and development discussed with regards to media. Retrieved from the archives in April 2015.
Information Department. (1966, May 21). File no 10 72/66 GO MS No 1089. Notification from Deputy Secretary A R Gopalan of the Home Department, Jammu and Kashmir government to Government and to Director of Government Printing Andhra Pradesh Hyderabad, Railway Deputy Inspector General, Superintendent of Police Special Branch, Crime Investigation Department (CID) Hyderabad, Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Registrar of Andhra University, all Collectors and Osmania University, Hyderabad on banning maps showing Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura as excluded from India that were printed in exercise books by Shekhar Litho Press in Andhra Pradesh . Retrieved from the archives in April 2015.
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