New Delhi: The state-owned All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan have from 30 July been broadcasting special programmes across its networks on Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kargil in the run up to 5 August. However, they have been instructed to avoid any mention of Articles 370 or 35A or any political statements on the issue, ThePrint has learnt.
5 August marks one year since the central government scrapped Article 370 and Article 35A, which granted Jammu and Kashmir special status, paving the way for the state to be divided into two union territories.
“… AIR and DD have been told that there should be no mention of Article 370 or 35A, anniversary celebrations of the abrogation of Article 370 or splitting the erstwhile state of J&K into two, and other political statements made on them in all the special programmes to be aired in the 30 July to 5 August period,” a top government source told ThePrint.
ThePrint reached Shashi Shekhar Vempati, Prasar Bharati chief executive officer, through text messages for a comment but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
The decision to downplay the occasion on 5 August marks a change from the government’s stance. Sources said the direction is likely to have come from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Narendra Modi 2.0 government has always publicised the abrogation as a major achievement and a historic move, and was mentioned in its first anniversary celebrations.
Sources in Prasar Bharati told ThePrint that both AIR and DD were airing special programmes on the rich historical and cultural heritage of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kargil.
Among the special programmes being aired, the AIR in Leh, for instance, put out a show on rock inscriptions of the region by historian Sonam Phunstog and the history of Ladakh by Thupstan Paldan, a writer and scholar.
Another programme delved into the carpet industry of Kashmir while one was dedicated to Jhelum river.
The programmes are being produced by regional stations in regional languages and dialects. Similar programmes are being relayed across the national network and include special footage as well as interviews with eminent artists and writers who hail from here.
Change in stance
While the exact reason for why the government has decided to omit the mention of Article 370 from the special programmes is not known, government insiders attributed the move to multiple factors.
One of them, a top government official, told ThePrint that the idea was to highlight the development in Jammu & Kashmir that had taken place since last year.
“The idea is to showcase the development projects for people to see and understand. DD has telecast various programmes on Kashmir then-and-now,” the official said.
Another reason, a second official said, could be the current tensions with China at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh.
At the time of the provision being scrapped, Beijing had said it was “seriously concerned” about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, specifically indicating Ladakh, which was carved into its own Union Territory.
Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi had said in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2019 said no actions should be taken that would unilaterally change the status quo. “As a neighbour of both India and Pakistan, China hopes to see the dispute effectively managed and stability restored in the relationship between the two sides,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is observing 5 August as a ‘Black day’ and has planned a series of events, including a foreign media corps’ trip to the Line of Control, programmes on Pakistani TV news channels, and protest rallies, among others.
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