Indian mainstream media was never known for journalistic ethics, unbiased reporting or adhering to facts. OpIndia.com, since inception, has been regularly exposing media lies, spins and hitjobs. Thus far, most of these lies were result of either plain incompetence or a hidden political agenda of the author/media outlet. But a shocking hit-job by Cobrapost.com against the Indian army is perhaps an eye opener on how media lies can be a direct threat to national security.
On 8 July 2016, Indian security forces killed infamous Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, which was followed by violent protests by his supporters in the valley resulting into scores of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Given such a volatile situation, one would expect media to behave responsibly and check all facts before reporting any story related to Kashmir. However, on 16 July 2016, Cobrapost.com (which calls itself a non-profit, investigative news portal) published a piece titled “BREAKING: Chilling Kashmir video speaks volumes about army atrocities”. This article tosses basic principles of journalism into garbage bin to depict an evil picture of the Indian Army.
The article describes an embedded video posted on Facebook by a user called Asif Khan. The video shows Indian soldiers responding to cries of help of a man stuck under the debris of what appears to be a collapsed building. Upon seeing the face of the man, soldiers open fire and kill him instantly. This is how Cobrapost describes the video –
“A chilling video has emerged of the brutality and insanity perpetrated by the Indian army with impunity in Kashmir, sparking off major concerns about the dire circumstances of the people in the state.
The video shows a group of army men gathering around a rubble when they hear faint cries for help. They first show an impressive initiative to save the person trapped in the rubble.
However, things take a sinister turn when it’s discovered that the victim sports a beard, in the fashion that Muslim residents are wont to do in Kashmir. A soldier immediately and unceremoniously kills the man with a few bursts of bullet. They had neither proof nor any reasons to believe that the man was a terrorist or even a wanted man. There wasn’t any need for an identification either.
A life gone. A people lost.
A community betrayed.”
Indeed, chilling brutality inflicted by the Indian Army on the local people, if you are to take Cobrapost’s description at face value (which most of the readers are likely to). And given the timing of the article, the readers are likely to believe that this incident happened during the ongoing violence in Kashmir. However, this description could not be farther from the truth.
The said video is from 2011 (yes, 5 years ago!), and the person in the video crying for help was then top Jaish-e-Muhammed terrorist Ahsan Bhai, a Pakistani national, as claimed by this News X report:
Speaking about the encounter, the then army spokesperson Lt. Col. J. S. Brar had said – “He was given enough opportunity to surrender which he didn’t. In this particular video if you observe closely he has a grenade in his hand and he was killed in retaliation to avoid collateral damage. After clearing the area a lot more explosives were found around him.”
One more story on the same encounter is here, on NDTV, again datingback to 2011.
After watching these two videos, it is clear that the Army had proof that the man was a Pakistani terrorist on Indian soil as well as had a valid reason to kill him, i.e. to reduce collateral damage. The language Cobrapost used to describe the incident and the timing (5 years late) makes one wonder what the purpose of that article is (your guess is probably right). But the question is, will the I&B Ministry take any action against Cobrapost? And will the eminent personalities who had donated money to Cobrapost speak out against this yellow journalism by the portal?