Jammu & Kashmir police detain a member of Youth Congress during a protest
Jammu & Kashmir police detain a member of Youth Congress during a protest against the Indian govt's decision to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and passing a bill that split the state into two Union Territories, in Jammu, Saturday | PTI
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New Delhi: Nearly a week after the Modi government imposed a complete communication black-out in Jammu and Kashmir, suspending internet and landline services, images and videos of a widespread protest snuck past the press barricades on the back of international media.

These have now become the bone of contention between the Indian government, which claims there have been only ‘minor’ protests, and the international media houses such as Reuters, BBC amongst others who think otherwise.

BBC had on 10 August published an ‘exclusive video’ that shows large groups of men running and taking cover, while what appears to be the sound of gunfire, echoes in the background.

Smoke rises in the air, and women and men shout indiscriminately in the distance. The scene cuts to thousands flocking the streets carrying posters decrying the revocation of Article 370, and people chant “We want freedom,” and “Go back India!” in unison.

BBC South Asia Bureaux Chief Nicola Careem tweeted that “despite government saying reports of protests in Saura were completely fabricated, see exclusive BBC footage here for the truth.”

“This was shot yesterday at 1530 after Friday prayers in Soura in Srinagar in Indian administered Kashmir,” she said in a follow-up tweet.

BBC Sunday issued a statement that its reporting on Kashmir has been objective. “We are covering the situation impartially and accurately,’’ it said, despite “severe restrictions’’ on the ground.

The BBC video came on the back of a Reuters report, which said over 10,000 people in Srinagar took to the streets to protest India’s decision to scrap Article 370 that stripped the region of its special status. The report, by journalists Devjyot Ghoshal and Fayaz Bukhari on 9 August, said that the “Indian police used tear gas and pellets to fight back,” and that witnesses told them that “some women and children even jumped into the water,” to avoid the onslaught of pellets.

The Indian government officially denied this report.

“A news report originally published in Reuters and appeared in Dawn claims there was a protest involving 10,000 people in Srinagar,” spokeswoman for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs Vasudha Gupta tweeted at 12:20 pm the same day.

“This is completely fabricated & incorrect. There have been a few stray protests in Srinagar/Baramulla and none involved a crowd of more than 20 ppl,” she added.

More international media flak

Al Jazeera and Washington Post carried similar reports on 9 August, which included a picture by the Associated Press of Kashmiri women protesting after Friday prayers in Srinagar, as well as video footage (Al Jazeera) of hoards of demonstrators carrying black flags, placards and chanting “we want freedom” and “abrogation of Article 370 is not acceptable”.

The reports said that protesters at Soura — an area in Srinagar — suffered multiple injuries and were admitted to two hospitals in the city.


Also read: Haven’t spoken to family in 6 days, how is that acceptable, asks Kashmiri student, moves SC


 

‘Calm in the Valley’

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, still maintains that the situation in the Valley is “peaceful” and that “no firing has taken place in Kashmir over 6 days”.

In a statement from its official handle posted late Saturday night, the J&K police director general of police Dilbagh Singh “requested people not to believe fabricated and motivated news.”

“There has been no untoward incident barring minor stone-pelting which was dealt with on the spot and was nipped in the bud,” Singh told news agency PTI, and the statement further stressed that “the situation is calm, people are cooperative and restrictions are being relaxed to ease the situation.”

An image of 14-year-old Afshana Farooq by Atul Loke that appeared in The New York Times tells a different story. She lies in pained tears on a stretcher, with her arm in a drip, and a hand on her head for comfort, “after being nearly trampled in a stampede when Indian forces opened fire on demonstrators,” says the caption.

In a series of images under an article titled ‘Photos Emerge From Kashmir, a Land on Lockdown,’ in NYT, Indian migrant labourers can be seen fleeing Kashmir by climbing through emergency train windows, an activist can be seen being forcefully detained by the police in a protest in Jammu, and stone-pelters can be seen in direct conflict with the armed forces deployed in the Valley.


Also read: Twitter, Insta go red: Does display-picture activism make sense when Kashmir is in lockdown?


A version of truth

This is not the first time there have been conflicting versions of events between the Indian government and the international media. A similar scenario played out after the Balakot air strikes in late February.

While India championed its first-ever deep territory counter-attack in Pakistan, with claims from the likes of Home Minister Amit Shah that over 250 terrorists had been killed, Pakistan denied that any such basecamp even existed and that the only thing the Indian aircrafts had managed to damage was some flora and fauna.

Even then, the Indian government’s stance differed considerably from the reports doing rounds in international media.

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22 Comments Share Your Views

22 COMMENTS

  1. British wanted Kashmir to be part of Pakistan post independence . After creating all the havoc in Indian subcontinent , the biased British media is trying to ridicule the spine Modi and Amit Shah duo displayed in Kashmir…Dear BBC, please educate your children about the true history of what went wrong here rather than interfering in our internal matters .

  2. All FAKE NEWS here- sponsored by Terrorist Jihadi Nation Pakistan.
    BBC & Reuters : SHAME on YOU for posting FABRICATED VIDEO showing protests were from Indian Kashmir . In reality, those videos of mock protest were from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK).
    This Article Writers (Zeba & Fayaz) are the Pakistan Agents who can even sell their mother if someone can give them money in return just like this planting of fake news.

    The World knows how Peaceful Kashmir was during their pious Muslim festival of Id. There was no bullet fired and confirmed by the Police Commissioner of Kashmir.

    Terrorist nation Pakistan is getting so MUCH FRUSTRATED and looking for all ways to incite Terrorism and sending 100% Doctored videos from past and joining multiple fake videos which has all been caught by the World.

    BBC & Reuters- Have some Shame . Be Professional and stop posting Doctored Videos and fake News from Kashmir .

  3. The removal of 370 is essential to bring law and order and opportunities which were so far denied to the people of J&K . The foreign press and the inciters of negative views are only seeking sensational media coverage and have no answer for what rights of the people are being denied by this move.

  4. BBC is known to use stock footage from the past and present it as live news. When India has suspended all forms of electronic communication, asked all outsiders to leave Kashmir, how did you stay back (breaching the law) and transmit pictures/videos, news and material information that you claim proprietorship too? Open up to an independent enquiry and stop playing poodle to paid news to prove that you are independent and entirely free from rabid thoughts.

  5. Has BBC, CNN still been able to get access to main building in balakote. This represents the level of their journalism. Combining clips here and there to pass it as journalisim. This media bias is too obvious to ignore and is done on behest of British government.

  6. I saw the BBC Hindi video coverage of the Friday protests. One burst of machine gun fire was clearly heard. Though the camera at that moment wasn’t at the site of that automatic gun fire, so its results couldn’t be shown. It was a short video, I think only about three minutes. Now, I don’t know if it was a burst from a toy gun to scare the demonstrators, or if it was of rubber bullets, but I am very sure I heard a burst of fire from an automatic gun.

  7. The “International Media” is essentially a proxy of the likes of Indian Express and other leftist news outlets. Reuters came out with a fake story on Balakot strike. These days it is difficult to decide what to believe and what not? Gone are the days when news outlets were taken seriously.

  8. One may not always agree with the editorial stance or opinion pieces in leading western media. However, we have grown up believing the BBC to be one of the most trustworthy sources of news in the world.

    • Are you Ramachandra Guha? You are very funny.

      There is widespread perception BBC is a vicious, leftie commie, specifically anti India channel. They support Jihadi terror more than Aljazeera.

      • Is it a surprise that all people with initial R (RJ, RR, RGK) post mostly stupid comments? Is it the same person? And Ashok, who writes a lot of sense, is always their target. Are they BJP trolls?

        • No. We are not trolls. We are educated and well-aware. Realistic and unbiased. Compile our comments and you will get your answer. There is nothing against ashok’s comments except that he makes sweeping statements based on his personal views and prejudices. Sonia is great. The incumbent is a fool. Akhilesh is educated. Abdullah was a messiah. NY Times must not criticise India or else sky will fall. Arre bhai chalo Modi ne kuch nahin kiya par in logon nein kaun sa chand taare la diye?

          • You are mixing up so many issues in one single paragraph that no wonder simple minds like mine get confused! From Modi to Sonia to NYT…

            And the Kashmir story is not about what Modi did but *how* he did it.

            And before all you guys try to discredit the BBC, think again. Sure, it has its bias, but its reputation is built on solid work it has done over 10s of years.

  9. Why doesn’t Nicola Careem have his or Her picture on her Twitter account? Seems strange. is this how Alex Crawford reports? What’s her modus operandi? What’s the authenticity of the source of this video? BBC is no holier than thou when it comes to impartial journalism.

      • Really. Do you even know how Western media reports? Do you really believe that a senior and credible journalist should not be carrying her profile picture on her Twitter account? Just a 2 minutes clip means nothing my dear friend. Yes, there are challenges and things are not rosy, but that does not mean BBC is God’s word.

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