Opinion

View from Kashmir Observer: Biased media coverage is hurting Kashmir more than many people realise

Afraid of appearing soft on Kashmiris, the central government is adopting harsh policy measures.

Does the Islamic State operate in Kashmir? There isn’t one answer to the question. The Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police in an interview to a television channel admitted that the group exists in Kashmir. He however, added that the group doesn’t have a “substantial” presence in Valley. But the Ministry of Home Affairs has categorically denied the existence of the group in Kashmir. A Home Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by a news agency that there was “no physical infrastructure or manpower of the IS in the Valley”.

A fresh debate about the presence of IS began in Kashmir after A’maq, the publicity wing of IS, claimed on Monday that the group carried out the attack on police constable Farooq Ahmad and “a war has just begun”. However, it is not only the governments in Srinagar and New Delhi which are apparently failing to make a sense of the IS presence in the Valley, the people too are confused.

On the other hand, the militant group Hizbul Mujahideen has often termed the advent of the IS and Al Qaeda as “an intelligence operation”, an opinion which resonates with a section of population in the Valley. They argue there is an attempt to play to existing international opinion about radical Islam and delegitimise the Azadi campaign. At the same time, there is popular support in some areas for the two organisations. But then also authentic IS and Al Qaeda Twitter handles and letter pads have owned up their Valley chapters. Recent months have also witnessed some use of the alleged IS flags in militant funerals.

Going downhill

Whatever be the reality of the IS, Al Qaeda presence in Kashmir, the truth is that the situation in the state is showing signs of progressive deterioration. The killings of police men in central Kashmir are the latest reminder to the effect. But far from revising its so called muscular policy and choosing engagement and dialogue to address the lingering issues in the state, the Centre has chosen to do nothing. And this attitude has pervaded the country’s institutions, including the media. Some televisions channels go into hysterics over the occasional waving of IS flags in Srinagar. Many channels run stories and debates over the intermittent incidents.

The TV debates also build a hateful stereotype of Kashmiris in the rest of India and create an anti-Kashmiri sentiment. This media stereotyping of Kashmiris has in turn left some imprint on the central government policy on the state too. The governments don’t want to be perceived to be “appeasing” Kashmiris. The harsh policy measures to deal with the state are welcomed and a constructive engagement is opposed. Over the years, this approach has further alienated Kashmiris, thereby creating a vicious circle. Both New Delhi and Kashmir Valley now deal with the stereotypes of each other than the complex realities as they exist on the ground. But this needs to change. And it is incumbent on the media to present a correct picture of the state as for the union government to get serious about the situation in the state.

This article first appeared on Kashmir Observer.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.