On June 19, merely days after the bloody clash with China at Galwan valley, engineers of the Indian Army completed a crucial 60 meter bridge over the Galwan river high in the mountains. This would give the Indian Army easy connectivity to the crucial air field at Daulat Beg Oldie.
That’s the Indian Army for us all. Forever vigilant along the LAC and the LOC. Ready to build a bridge in difficult mountain terrain, with the enemy almost staring them in the face.
Yesterday, the Indian liberal media crossed a very different sort of bridge. It was a moral bridge. They officially crossed the bridge from hostility towards Modi sarkar to openly siding with Pakistani propaganda.
It happened thus. Terrorists attacked a CRPF party in Sopore in Northern Kashmir. One CRPF man was killed as well as a civilian. The heartbreaking images of the dead civilian, a grandfather, went viral yesterday, showing his little grandson grieving over the lifeless body.
That’s what terrorism is. It’s purpose is to take innocent lives. How many more heartbreaking images do you want to see? From Kashmir, from Delhi, from Mumbai, from Paris, New York, Sydney or Madrid?
But then something surprising happened. After the Sopore attack, segments in the Indian liberal media started circulating the rumor that the civilian in question had been killed not by terrorists, but by the CRPF.
Sure, the Indian media kept up a veneer of deniability. Instead of accusing the CRPF directly, they said they were merely reporting the rumors that had been circulating. But the objective of giving widespread publicity to these rumors is completely clear. And whose propaganda this is serving.
The approach was simple. The “reputed” liberal newspapers reported it in monkey balancing fashion, as two competing accounts of the Sopore attack. The murky online liberal portals were bolder: they made headlines out of the allegation and included the CRPF’s official version as a footnote.
And so it begins. The propaganda effort to show Indian security personnel as terrorists in Kashmir.
They had been preparing the ground on this for a while. For a long time now, terrorists neutralized by security forces have been hailed in our media as headmasters sons, cricket enthusiasts, video game players, math teachers and what not. Their personal stories, their hopes and dreams, were splashed all over mainstream and social media. Meanwhile, casualties sustained by Indian security personnel were reported as dry statistics: X killed and Y injured.
In other words, the terrorists were humanized, turned into people who seemed relatable. Indian security personnel were rendered nameless and faceless.
This instinct has been lurking in the Indian liberal mind for a while now, even before Modi sarkar. The Batla House encounter of Sep 2008, in which Inspector M C Sharma laid down his life, has repeatedly been described as a fake encounter. Even after the 26/11 attacks, a section of media quite eager to excuse Pakistan and somehow blame the RSS.
But secular parties were in power then. The parties and their cheerleaders were torn between ideology and votebank on the one hand and the basic responsibility of running the state on the other.
Then, 2014 happened. And then 2019. After Article 370 was removed in August last year, the media drive against India became turbocharged. The Indian state was routinely labelled as Nazi and fascist. Even Kashmiri Hindus celebrating the move were labelled as Nazis. Of course, this is exactly what Pakistan and China wanted to hear : India as the occupier in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The Pakistanis want Kashmir. The Chinese want Ladakh. The liberal media wants to get back its hold in the corridors of power in Delhi. Three forces, one objective.
In retrospect, it is surprising that it took the Indian media so long to cross this bridge.