Security personnel stands guard during a strike called by separatist leaders to mark the 35th death anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, in Srinagar | PTI
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Prime Time

On Times Now, Navika Kumar was almost in tears. On Harvest TV, Barkha Dutt called it “a horrible day in India.”

On CNN News18, Bhupendra Chaubey bemoaned the media’s focus on people like “Vijay Mallya,” while ABP News blackened the suicide bomber’s face, and Aaj Tak called for “badla.”

Other Hindi news channels hollered for “blood.”

This heightened response to the Pulwama killings elicited an advisory from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Thursday evening. It asked TV news to be “particularly cautious” to not broadcast content that is “likely to encourage or incite violence…or which promotes anti-national attitudes.”

NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar also counselled against a “kneejerk reaction.” He appealed to other news anchors not to be emotional and ask for “immediate retaliation.” He reminded “loud” anchors that issues concerning the armed forces such as ‘One Rank One Pension’ were ignored by them.

However, news channel anchors were not listening: from RepublicTV’s Arnab Goswami and Kumar (Times Now) to Chaubey (CNN News18), they threw caution to the wind, called for all-out war against Pakistan.

Pending that, they launched their own verbal attacks.

Goswami said that “apart from military, Pakistan should be taught a lesson in different areas including business and commerce as well.” He wanted a 1:10 headcount vis a vis Indian and Pakistani soldiers killed.

Kumar tearfully said that she did not know how to convey the news of their deaths to the wives and mothers of the CRPF jawans. Her verdict? Time for India to retaliate against Pakistan.

India Today’s Rahul Kanwal discussed the options before India to punish Pakistan: cutting off Indus River water supply to Pakistan, withdrawing the status of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) or designate Pakistan a terrorist state.

Aaj Tak’s Sweta Singh said the Indian Army had the strength to enter Pakistan and eliminate Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar.

Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary argued that since the terrorist strike was on a large scale, the response to it should commensurate.

CNN News 18’s Chaubey said “go to war against Pakistan……Do we really have answers to these questions which are posed by terrorists.”

Interestingly, some army generals like former Army chief V.P. Malik (Harvest TV), Retd Lt General Shankar Prasad (India Today), Lt Gen Kulkarni (India Ahead) gave calmer counsel — take “corrective measures,” said Malik. They also blamed the “political class,” as Prasad calls it, for playing politics: “forces first, no politics,” said Kulkarni.

Front Page

The carnage in south Kashmir dominates the front pages, almost to the exclusion of all else, although Hindustan Times and The Times of India carry half page advertisements and The Hindu gives it just one lead report.

The enormity of the massacre reflects in the coverage: The Indian Express devotes page 1 to the Pulwama attack, barring its anchor story — HT, TOI and Express also have another full page of coverage inside.

So too the headlines: from Express’ double decker headline “In Worst terror attack in Valley, car bomber kills 37 CRPF men” and HT’s “Kashmir’s Bloodiest Day,” to “…J&K’s Deadliest attack (The Economic Times).

TOI double-decker, too convoluted for quoting, says, “Govt blames Pakistan…” in “…worst terror hit on J&K forces.”

The Hindu’s opening paragraph is clear and succinct; “At least 37 CRPF personnel were killed on Thursday when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber.”

There’s confusion on the number of dead and injured going from an official CRPF figure of 37 dead to HT’s “Forty-four men were feared killed,” and “at least 20 more” injured to the Express’s 37 killed but “10 injured…” and TOI’s 42 casualty count.

This “surpassed the Uri attack on the camp of the Army, which had led the Modi government to launch surgical strikes against terrorist groups operating from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” writes TOI.

JeM

From the incident, the papers shift focus to the perpetrator and the Jaish-e-Mohammed.

In “Pulwama Attack” (page 11), Express say 20-year old Adil Ahmad Dar, the suicide bomber, left home to join the JeM about a year ago. The Express appears alone in quoting his father: “It’s bad that people from both sides are being killed…The politicians are playing politics. They should try and find out why the youth are picking up the gun…”

“Counter-terrorism operatives suspect the attack was payback for the killing of JeM chief Masood Azhar’s nephew Usman Haider,” writes HT. Other papers add his other nephew, Talha Rashid, as another reason.

TOI suggests that the incident happened as “contentious issues like Masood Azhar were not flagged by India at the UN.” “India has been treading softly where China is concerned, going the extra distance to not disturb the fragile peace with Beijing,” it writes — a reference to China’s refusal to blacklist Azhar.

The Hindu notes, “The JeM has carried out around 10 grenade attacks, with four grenades triggered in capital Srinagar this year so far.” Express says this number is 12.

Govt response

TOI’s “Surgical strike 2.0? PM’s tough talk sparks buzz” (page 14) vaguely states, “Many wondered whether the Modi government would once again follow up its denunciations with military retaliation.”

ET in “Terror may dominate election discourse” writes the attack “may compel” the Centre “to take strong steps” but since this attack and the Uri attack occurred under president’s rule “the Centre will not be able to shift the blame.”

In an exclusive Express interview, J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik first admits to an intelligence failure, then adds “…I can tell you that within 3 months we will finish them off.”

Opinion

Of the main papers, HT and Express respond to the Pulwama attack with editorials. Curiously, HT gives its comment second billing. “Kashmir: Centre must choose options carefully” argues that the Centre’s “temptation” in an election year will be to opt for “a muscular response…but it must choose with care.”

HT writes that the 2016 surgical strike “had little impact on the ground reality in the Valley.” It realises “restraint is not easy” but calls for the Centre to draw “a fine line.” Go after terrorists but remember politics “lies at the heart of insurgency,” it writes, pointing to the “ominous reality” of “locals” turning their “bodies into missiles.”

Express in “The Nation Mourns” also calls for “sobriety and wisdom” in the Centre’s response. The country will be “better served” if the Centre and all political parties “pause and reflect on the grave juncture in Kashmir…”

Express traces the “draining of optimism” in J&K after the “hardening of the Centre’s position,” despite “initial hopes” raised by the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party government, and “the worsening relations with Pakistan.”

“The moment calls, therefore, for a sober look back, and ahead,” it writes.

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12 Comments Share Your Views

12 COMMENTS

  1. Suraksha Bal ko aaj kyun chhut di gyi …..Kya sarkar 40 jawanon ke maut ka intazar kar rhi thi? Uri hamle ke bad kyun nhi Diya gya? Pathankot hamle ke bad kyun nhi Diya gya? Hakikat to ye hai ki aaj bhi Sena ko koi khuli chhut nhi di gyi hai…agar di gyi hoti to ab Tak hamare jawan pakistan ka naksa badal Diya hoya

  2. Is it not too late to give the powers to Forces to act based on their own decisions & the situation.?It
    is like you keep a driver to sit in the front but the power steering is controlled by you.
    Very very pathetic.!!

    • They have been already given that power if you aren’t aware of AFSPA .The main thing for us is to understand as to why are the kashmiri youth taking up guns, joining millitancy . The most fundamental and primary reason of these kashmiris behind jointing millitancy is the atrocities they are facing from the indian armed forces .If we observe and try to understand every kashmiri millitant’s history, we will find a common reason in all of them in joining millitancy ..which is the harrassment/ atrocities they have been facing .Every millitant of Kashmir has faced one or the other kind of harrasment from aur armed forces which forces them to pick up guns .If you have ever observed, not only uneducated ones are picking up guns in Kashmir , but today even educated youth of Kashmir is picking up gun, obviously there has to be a reason as to why they are choosing gun over pen. We are not supposed to destroy millitancy , we have to destroy the reason behind millitancy ..the root cause of millitancy in Kashmir .That will be the permanent solution to this issue .

  3. In my view, only official channel Doordarshan to be permitted to broadcast limited information about militancy and army action. Terrorists try to catch much media attention by these activities. We are helping those to meet their objectives. Govt of India can form a panel of Journalist and Defence experts who only can debate in calm and give lesser important to terrorist activities. Public excitement or sadness can’t affect border situation. Only army strategies will work. Army should do action but again not with media glare. These news should be neutral type view, no excitement. This will discourage the terrorist & and their sponsors. However, action should be STRONG but media attention should be LEAST.

  4. It is disgusting to see TV anchors shedding crocodile tears over the killing of Jawans. It seems that there is a race amongst TV anchors to out do others in proving their Nationalism.
    If they are so concerned and are so outraged then why don’t they quit their cushy jobs and join Army. It is easy to shout from the comforts of their studios , anyone can do.
    Disgusting that they are doing it to improve their TRP ratings.
    It is equally disgusting to see a section of people advocating violence through social media just to show that they are blue blooded Patriots. They should ask themselves as to how many members from their families are in Armed Forces.
    The rantings of TV anchors and mushrooming groups on social media who are baying for blood shows that they fit trust our Jawans .
    I believe in Indian Armed force’s power and commitment and know that they will retaliate appropriately and give Pakistan a befitting reply. In any case Armed forces don’t act on the bidding of civilians.
    Believe me if this trend is not checked then soon politicians will convert this ghastly tragedy into Hindu Muslim riots which is what Pakistan wants to get more recruits.
    Jai Hind.
    Hindustan Zindabad.

    Mohd Aslam

    • Very true indeed !
      Many of the problems we see today have their origins in mistakes by the present government as well as previous governments . Appeasement of terrorists or assuming that one terrorist is better than the other does not work. Short-termism and political expediency have been the hallmarks of the GOI’s policies in J&K. Soldiers and innocent civilians pay the price.

  5. Irresponsible statements. They are playing hidden game of keeping Pakistan terror high on agenda to be encashed in elections by their masters. War is not a child’s play. Keep silent and send Akshay kumar and Anupam kher to bring Masood Azhar to India as they did in ‘Baby’ . OK if he can not go then Dubhal can go as he did for Bhindranwale. OK , then send some other trained secret agent to kill Azhar. Kill the leader why waste energy on fighting pakistan and antagonising indian and kashmiri muslims by painting them with one colour.

  6. If not attack then why the hell we are third largest army.if neighbors don’t fear and continue attacking us then we should not buy any weapon or expend in forces . This is enough now. We have tolerated enough.
    If Hitler also were allowed for talk show only the god knows this world would have crumbled. World fought Hitler and it was necessary likewise now is the time to teach lesson to Pakistan .

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