An open letter to Shri Rajnath Singh, Hon’ble Home Minister of India.

Dear Hon’ble Minister,

While I admire the steps taken by the BJP government to bring in some order in the country and work on the operating philosophy so appropriately enunciated by the Hon. Prime Minister, “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas”, I am wondering if the Government is aware of the uncontrollable damage that is being done to the implementation of this agenda by some sections of the electronic media.

The government of the day, I am sure, is committed to retaining the secular fabric of the country and ensuring that Kashmir remains an integral part of the country.  Unfortunately, the electronic media – and particularly, ‘Republic’,  the channel that has been recently started by Arnab Goswami – is out to divide India on religious lines and precipitate the alienation process of the Muslims of Kashmir.   He has been using the Kashmir issue to whip up a national level anti-Muslim sentiment and in the process generate an increasing TRP for his channel and huge accolades for himself from the large average un-informed but opinionated population.   If one sat through even one session of  noisy and in-audible melee that he steers and which he, very presumptuously, calls a ‘debate’, it becomes evident that he is just not interested in carrying out anything sensible and the only purpose for him is to generate confrontation by provoking people to take positions that are either is sync with his own un-challengeable position or exactly opposite of that so that the required noise is generated.

It is an accepted fact that the GOI is facing a huge challenge in Kashmir.   A large part of the population is either alienated or lured to pretend as alienated and, unfortunately, many governments and activist groups around the world and are keeping an eye on the developments in Kashmir to find faults with the way we handle issues concerning human rights.    I, and my fellow-countrymen, obviously, expect the Government of the day to be fully capable of handling the Kashmir issue with maturity and work out a solution that brings lasting peace in the State.  To retain Kashmir as an integral part of India, we have to, as you are rightly doing, deploy a multi-pronged strategy.  The growing sentiment at the mass level that has stooped down to the level of expressing publicly that all those people who want independence or speak against India should leave Kashmir and go to Pakistan.  Unfortunately, Arnab Goswami is playing this card – regularly and aggressively – and creating conditions that would make it impossible for BJP to play the reconciliatory approach – I have reasons to presume that the BJP joined hands with PDP in J&K to find a political solution to the problem.  Despite the fact that there is a huge problem in the valley, I am sure that the BJP Government is capable of finding and should find a political solution to the problem.  It is impossible to keep a security vigil on 6 million people of the valley on a sustained basis.  It can be a short term and interim peace restoration initiative and, obviously, cannot be a permanent solution.

If we know that a certain set of people in Kashmir and Pakistan are out to spit venom, I see no reason for Arnab to have the same set of people on his show, day after day, to talk against the GOI and its policies vis-a-vis Kashmir and aggressively articulate their demand for ‘Azadi’.   Arnab shouts and calls them names but invites them again the next day for a debate on almost the same or similar subject but this time it is triggered off by a yet another incident in the valley and the same mindless melee goes on.  The whole ‘Tamasha’ is driven by selfish motives.  Arnab has, very rightly, understood the polarized political mood of the people and is using that to generate increasing TRP for his ‘Republic’ and the separatists in the Valley and their sympathizers across the border get TV-time to showcase their views and the ability to shout at opponents.   Arnab, and the select few that he calls for his debates, think that by accusing and shouting at the separatists they are doing a great service to the nation and, I am sure, that the separatists show up as guests, despite being called names, because they just wouldn’t be able to find such a wonderful medium – and that too free of cost – to get propaganda for their ideology and movement and reach out and project themselves to their audience as champions of their cause.  It is, generally, observed that while these people are shouted at they, unperturbedly, smile and laugh and mock at the panelist who have contrary views. The issue is that should these people, who are openly talking about freedom from India, be sitting on TV debates almost every day and reaching out to their audiences through the electronic media and, also, establishing and re-enforcing their locus standi by way of their bold and aggressive anti-India conduct on the debates.  Arnab Goswami and some other channels that are competing with ‘Republic’ should be made to realize that national security and peace in Kashmir are, certainly, more important than their commercial gains that are driven by TRPs.

Also, Kashmir is a problem that has, in the recent past, acquired some Islamic flavor to it but it needs to be addressed as an isolated problem that is confined to a region and that too to the limited ethnic group.  Arnab has been able to project that problem as religious and raises the issue with the Muslim religious leaders of the country.  There is absolutely no reason to generate the feeling among the Muslim community within the country that because their fellow-religionists in Kashmir are ‘anti-national’, they have to wear the ‘I am a nationalist’ display card on their body.  I have serious doubts about our having any reason whatsoever or being able to afford to alienate even a fraction of the 170 million Muslims of the country.  ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’ does not have to be just an electoral slogan but something that needs to be practiced in letter and spirit and communicated in a manner in which it is implemented at all levels in the government and society.

Why am I writing to you.  I request you to, please, use whatever power and influence that you have as the Home Minister of the country and a senior leader of the party in power to ensure that the Kashmiri separatists and their sympathizers in Pakistan do not get TV-time and that some guidelines are developed and implemented to restrict display of religious and communal biases by TV anchors and panelists.  TV journalists need to behave responsibly but, if that is not happening, I guess the State has a reason to pitch in and restore some reasonableness in the system through means that are permissible within the constitutional framework.

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