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The Telegraph wants to win a media rat race to the bottom of the pit with its headlines, but in the end, it will remain a rat

While several journalists and 'activists' mouthed off platitudes after the historic decision, known for it's in your face' headlines, the Telegraph discovered a brand new depth of journalism that one thought did not exist.

The Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi created history yesterday. In a legally complex move, the Government diluted Article 370 and declared Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh as a Union Territory. The move abrogates the special status that was accorded to Jammu and Kashmir for the past 70 years.

The country erupted in celebration as soon as Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement in the Parliament. While the opposition members behaved like petulant children ready to sacrifice national interest at the altar of petty politics, a promise made decades ago had been fulfilled.

One of the first opponents of Article 370 was Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (which was the predecessor of present-day BJP). He had been arrested for protesting against the permit system which was prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir and laid his life down fighting for what he believed in. He found the rules of the permit system for Indian citizens travelling to Jammu and prohibition from settling in the state as abhorrent to the principles of a united nation. In order to protest against this system, he travelled to the state without a permit card. He was arrested near Lakhenpur and lodged in the central jail. Due to his efforts, the permit system / ID card rule was revoked, but he died under mysterious circumstances at a hospital in Srinagar on 23rd June 1953. Demands for independent inquiries were rejected and it was declared that Dr Mookerjee had died due to a heart attack.

It is since the 50s that the seeds of the fight for revocation of Article 370 had begun. Ever since then Jan Sangh and later BJP has maintained that one of its promises to the people of India was to ensure the full and conditionless integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the nation and for that, Article 370 and Article 35A had to go.

Yesterday, BJP delivered on that promise. A decision that was celebrated across the nation. Of course, when we say ‘across the nation’ we as a matter of principle leave out the ‘Lutyens circuit’ since they are so disconnected from reality, that the common man’s aspiration now appears a mere charade to them.

While several journalists and ‘activists’ mouthed off platitudes after the historic decision, known for it’s in your face’ headlines, the Telegraph discovered a brand new depth of journalism that one thought did not exist.

Telegraph front page

The Telegraph headline screams “PARTITION”. While the Telegraph prides itself in being cheeky with its headlines, at this historic moment, their headline should ideally amount of fanning tensions in the Indian State and toeing the Pakistan line.

Pakistan has always maintained its faulty claim on Kashmir through the decades. It has spilt blood and murdered thousands in its foolish quest to acquire an Indian state. The premise of Pakistan is based on religion. Kashmir has a Muslim majority and the Hindus of the state were killed, raped and driven away from their homeland. The land of Shiva has now become the land where hatred for Hindus, radical Islam and terrorism are romanticised. All of this has been funded, aided and encouraged by Pakistan. A rogue Islamic nation that thrives on exporting terror.

Pakistan has also always maintained that Kashmir is not a part of India. Its shenanigans have been largely rooted in this delusion. Article 370, that gave Jammu and Kashmir special status, which means it had its own constitution, its own flag, even its own Penal Code only furthered the propaganda by Pakistan – that Kashmir was not a part of India.

With the article now rendered useless and Jammu and Kashmir turned into a Union Territory, all laws of India would apply to J&K. People from the rest of the country would be able to buy property in J&K. In one swift motion, Pakistan’s propaganda related to Kashmir was decimated.

The Telegraph, calls this ‘PARTITION’.

As a subtitle, they add that the ‘Partition’ is that of the mind and a state by the largest democracy in the planet without asking the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Interestingly, Telegraph’s focus on the word ‘PARTITION’ serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it equates the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir with the Partition of India. A bloody chapter of the Indian history where millions died in the process. The underlying, unsaid message is rather clear. According to the Telegraph, the Indian State is being an ‘oppressive regime’ and unleashing an era of bloodshed, turmoil and loss in the J&K. Of course, that not one incident of severe violence has been reported and that the valley has been peaceful after the announcement holds no meaning for the paper.

The emphasis of the word ‘PARTITION’ also furthers the Pakistani propaganda. The bifurcation of a state into smaller units is not new. The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 bifurcated Andhra Pradesh to form Telangana. In fact, there has been a long-standing demand to trifurcate even Uttar Pradesh since a state that large is difficult to govern effectively. Would this be termed ‘PARTITION’? When a country internally reorganises its states and its internal state boundaries, the term ‘partition’ would not be used to define it. The only way it would be used is if a media organisation like the Telegraph attempts to further separatist sentiments and basically, toe the Pakistan line which peddles Jammu and Kashmir as an independent national entity, not a part of India.

Further, the Telegraph with its headline also furthers the religious divide. The fact remains that for the Indian State, the decision to Reorganise Jammu and Kashmir was a governance decision. A state that has been a cesspool of terrorism must come under the central government for better governance. However, the Telegraph with its headline turned the entire issue into a Hindu vs Muslim debate. Subtly and subtextually, of course. The Partition of India was a product of Muslims not wanting to stay with India and asserting that the Muslim identity in itself constitutes a nation-state. While India did not insist of complete exchange of population, Pakistan demonised, murdered and raped its minority Hindus and declared itself the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Perhaps Telegraph wants to assert that a nation like India which has always upheld the unity and integrity of the nation is just as bad as a barbarian state. Or, they want to assert that the Modi government today, which the Leftists like to brand as a ‘Hindu majoritarian’ government, is heaping atrocities on Muslim of the valley just as Pakistan heaped atrocities on its non-Muslim minority community.

Either way, the Telegraph discovered a low that one wouldn’t imagine existed. One can marvel at the mastery of the paper, considering with one word they managed to not only fan separatism and further the Pakistani agenda, but also turn an internal security and governance issue into one of Hindu-Muslim strife. The Telegraph wants to win a media rat race to the bottom of the pit with its headlines, but in the end, it will remain a rat. A rat that wants to tear India’s integrity to shreds.

However, fact remains that a historic wrong was rectified and the sanctity of the nation-state was reinstated yesterday. While the Telegraph can whine and bawl, the nation stands as one. Despite the media’s best efforts to tear it apart.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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