Unlike the media in the rest of the country covers the Narendra Modi extensively, newspapers in Kashmir seem least interested to cover the news and the views about the guy who is trying to rise as a Prime Ministerial candidate in India.
One can barely see a brief news item somewhere in the inner pages of the Srinagar based newspapers regarding the big political issues of the country, which are otherwise displayed as the lead stories by the national and the regional newspapers across the country. The local newspapers in the Valley remain full with the news, views and the analysis related only to the local issues.
Not only the news pages of the papers but the Edit and the Op-ed pages too carry the content only related to the conflict, the local issues and the regional politics. The local-focused line of the Media in Kashmir can be gauged by the fact that unlike the regional newspaper across India there is hardly any newspaper publishing with a “Nation” page.
Why is it that the newspapers in the Valley do not carry the news regarding the National Politics such as Modi- Rahul political battle, which is one of the hot topics for the newspaper and the TV channels out side the state these days? Shujaat Bukhari, a senior journalist and the editor of one of the leading English dailies publishing from both the cities, Jammu and Srinagar, replies: “As far as Modi is or for that matter any other political leader in India is concerned he is irrelevant to Kashmir since there is deep disconnect between Srinagar and rest of India because of political alienation and non resolution of political problem of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian National parties and their leaders will continue to be irrelevant in Kashmir.”
“Rise of Narendra Modi as a Prime Ministerial candidate is not good for the secular polity of India. Irrespective of the fact that every individual has a right to aspire for any political position in India, Modi’s march for New Delhi is not in sync with what is being perceived as secular India. He is after all responsible for the mass murder of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat and whether he is being punished for that or not does not absolve him of the charges.Incase he succeeds in becoming PM it will formally make India a Hindu India” Bukhari told Media Watch.”
Narendra Modi, with reference to Gujrat carnage is considered and a radical Hindu leader by the common Kashmiris. And of course the Kashmiri journalists share the similar view.
Maqbool Sahil , a well known journalist says, “There are no two opinions in this view that Narendra Modi is a radical Hindu leader. He belongs to such a political party, which has an un-match-able record of communal tension in India, His emergence as a candidate of Prime minister of India would be an unfortunate accident for the whole country, which believes and claims to be the biggest Democracy of the world.”
Interestingly, even after having so much reservation about Modi, the media in Kashmir does not cover him negatively either. Sahil believes that the media in Kashmir actually has much else to take care of other than the Modi issue. “The reason is very clear that Kashmiri media hardly has local issues and problems to cover, which are more important. Ours is a turmoil-hit state and we have been passing through a state of trauma for last 25 years or more so. Secondly, Kashmiri Media has lot of complaints with the Indian media, which not only over – shadows the problems and issues of Kashmir but also presents an ugly picture of the events and incidents taking place in our state, that is why the local media is partial with the happenings of rest of the India. Narendra Modi’s rise is being taken for granted. Change of faces in New Delhi hardly changes anything in J&K state,” he said.
Shah Abbas, a senior editor in Kashmir Life, a largest circulated tabloid publishing from Srinagar however shares different views. Abbas says, “Living in the conflict zone has made Kashmiris more political than anybody living in Delhi or Gujarat . It will not be fair to say that Kashmiris are indifferent towards the politics of New Delhi. They are more interested in it but for some other reasons. In Kashmir, BJP is introduced as more communal than it may actually be. Narendra Modi is important in the context of Muslims only. But the fact is that Indian Muslims and Kashmiri Muslims are two different entities. They have their different interests and goals so it rightly appears that Modi is not important to Kashmiris.” Abbas said.
The political commentators and the regular columnists in Kashmir never miss any opportunity to write their views on the major political and economical issues pertaining to any part of the globe. But interestingly, they too seem indifferent towards the national politics. Dr. Javid Iqbal, a noted Kashmiri scribe said, “In Kashmir, there is a marked indifference to how Indian narratives are shaping. Indifference to Modi is exactly the result of general indifference; somehow, Kashmiris seem to have concluded that Modi or anyone else as the Indian PM would hardly make a difference to their fate – they have seen the face of the state which exasperates even mainstreamers – take for instance the insistence on retaining AFSPA, indifference to statewide demand for return of power projects, Uri & Salal & much else.”