Sunday, 4 December, 2022
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‘Patharbaazi’ at Prime Time

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Prime Time

For the fifth successive day, the airwaves were filled with battle sounds as TV news channels went on the offensive on Pulwama even as “Pulwama mastermind” was killed in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the afternoon, the Kulbhushan Jadhav case hearing at ICJ displaced the war cries on the English channels but Hindi news remained at the battlefield.

ABP News’ studio onslaught began early evening.

In the debate anchored by Romana Khan, General G.D. Bakshi said the 2016 surgical strikes wasn’t enough — “one summer does not make a swallow,” quoth he, incorrectly. “What will you do now?” he asked Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Patra attacked Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, criticising her for criticising the PM; the customary war of words broke out until Khan broke it up, asking Patra, “Why didn’t you continue the surgical strikes?”

Patra did not reply. He went after Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad.

“Don’t go into politics,” begged Khan. Maintain a “bipartisan” stance, advised Bakshi, this “tu-tu main-main” is “unedifying.”

On Anjana Om Kashyap’s show (Aaj Tak), politics overtook any attempt at rational discourse.

Social worker Shabnam Lone spoke of a changed reality in the Valley: “These children who were born after 1990 are not afraid of death.”

Patra, who was here too, retorted: “They are terrorists, no children.”

He repeatedly asked Shabnam Lone, “Can you call Burhan Wani a terrorist in front of the camera? Just reply in yes or no.”

Lone refused to answer. When Lone interrupted him, Patra said, “Please don’t do patharbaazi (stone pelting) while I speak.”

Social activist Irfan Hafiz Lone tried for a calmer viewpoint: “This is the country of Mahatma Gandhi, let there be hope for baat-cheet.”

Defence analyst Commodore G.J. Singh had not time for peace or talks: “The real place for all the terrorists (is) Tihar jail.”

National Conference spokesperson Sameer Kaul left the debate when he was repeatedly interrupted as he tried to speak.

On NDTV 24×7, ‘Left Right and Centre’ anchor Nidhi Razdan raised “Unanswered questions” on Pulwama. Was there an “element of failure” in India’s lack of preparedness for such attacks?

Former diplomat K.C. Singh said Pakistan set up the attack and in India “nobody looked over the horizon.”

Lt Gen Syed A Hasnain agreed: India was “caught unawares.”

Journalist Harinder Baweja felt India is lulled into “complacency” after every such attack. “We closed our eyes to what was happening on the ground,” she added, “namely the indoctrination of the local population.”

Front Page

Monday’s encounter in Pulwama, following the blast that killed 40 CRPF soldiers on 14 February is the lead in Hindustan Times, The Times of India, and The Hindu this morning. The Indian Express gives it second billing.

Each one frames the incident differently: Express emphasises casualties on both sides in “Major, 3 jawans, J&K cop killed in encounter; three Jaish men dead”; Hindu is neutral with “Nine killed in Pulwama gunfight.”

HT highlights “3 Jaish men killed in Pulwama” and so too TOI: “3 Jaish terrorists linked to Pulwama attack killed in 18-hour encounter.” It adds that “the operation allowed the forces to avenge the Pulwama bombing to some extent.”

The Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar is more colorful in its headline: “Kamran Tamam” (end of Kamran) referring to the death of Pulwama ‘mastermind’. Dainik Jagran emphasizes he was killed in ‘100 hours’ since Thursday’s attack.

Jadhav case

Express lead is the ongoing Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In “No due process, Pak should free Jadhav, India tells World Court,” it writes that “India’s opening arguments, days after the attack in Pulwama, marks a significant escalation of its position at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan.”

“The tensions were reflected in the Indian team’s refusal to shake hands with the Pakistani delegation at the start of proceedings,” writes HT.

TOI and Express carry photographs of this, too.

Curiously, Hindu doesn’t have Jadhav-ICJ on the front page at all.

Amar Ujala also leads with Jadav ‘Pakistan ne saare niyam todey, bina jaanch- sabut jadhav ko saza di.’ (Pakistan broke all the rules and punished him without evidence).

BJP – Shiv Sena alliance

In “BJP, Sena clinch deal: 25-23 for LS, equal split for state polls,” TOI reflects a healthy skepticism regarding the deal: “An extremely reluctant Shiv Sena…finally agreed to team up with BJP for the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections.”

Hindu calls the snap decision “a U-turn” compared to their earlier stance, which “passed a resolution at its national executive to go it alone in all future polls.”

The two parties “set aside their differences keeping in mind the Pulwama terror attack, their common Hindutva ideology, and ‘national interest,’” explains Express.

Media matters

Like TOI, HT has started a series on voting behaviour, called “HT My First Vote.” Posters of the campaign were seen Monday, with one showcasing a voter with a provocative quote: “I’m voting for reservations to be abolished for everyone.”

The Economic Times used a morphed image of 22 year old Pulwama suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar in its tweet. The photograph is actually a cross between Jon Bon Jovi and a security guard from Sao Paulo, with Dar’s face superimposed.


Pulwama elicits opinion pieces in Express, Hindu and ET.

In Express, Julio Ribeiro, who led Punjab police during its terrorism years, pays homage to the CRPF personnel in, “I grieve for my men,” and then asks whether the attack was “preventable.” Easy for “armchair analysts” to say it is. “Security forces have to be lucky all the time…The terrorists need such luck only once in order to succeed,” he writes.

But “…strong arm tactics alone” are not the answer, he writes. If the community to which “the terrorist belongs is not won over…one fallen terrorist will soon be replaced” by others.

In The Hindu, Happymon Jacob, who teaches disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University, considers “India’s options after Pulwama” and finds them unenviable. He discusses four military options: surgical strikes, the use of strike aircraft for “precision attacks,” “stand-off strikes” without crossing the border and a covert operation “to take out” leaders of terrorist outfits. He warns that we don’t know how Pakistan may respond to such “kinetic options.”

In ET, Harsh V. Pant, professor, King’s College London in “India’s Take-it Easy Policy” is scornful and critical of India’s posturing on Kashmir. He criticises the entire “Kashmiriyat” philosophy and the tendency to blame the world for our problems. “This country wants to be recognized as a major power,” he writes, but it doesn’t have the “self confidence of tackling its pre eminent national security threat.”

Dainik Jagran in its editorial worries at the loss of life of security personnel. It says the government needs to a teach a lesson to stone pelters who save terrorists “so that they never pick up a stone again. There is a limit to patience”, it adds.

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