For quite some time now there is a debate which is raging on social media, in which people are alleging that international media is trying to present a misleading picture of the situation in Kashmir.
On social media, people are accusing Al Jazeera and BBC of fabricating reports of unrest in Kashmir. The BBC and Al Jazeera report said that thousands of people raised anti-India slogans and protested against the abrogation of Article 370.
The BBC News, on August 10, claimed that thousands of protesters had taken to the streets in Soura, Srinagar, against the government’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status. The Al Jazeera had also reported about the massive agitation in Srinagar where a large crowd defied government orders of a lockdown. The report further stated that the protestors were met with live fire, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.
Taking cognisance of these videos broadcasted by BBC and Al Jazeera, the government of India contacted these international media organisations urging them to not broadcast fabricated videos. Indian authorities told the international media that these videos on large scale protests in Srinagar are far from being genuine and are misleading.
Videos are genuine: International Media to India
After Indian authorities wrote to international news agencies like Al Jazeera and BBC expressing discontent over apparently fabricated videos, the news agencies in their reply stated that the videos are genuine and they can even provide the raw footage if required. BBC had tweeted that the publication stood by its reportage but none, especially journalists, who had spoken against its broadcast, provided any evidence to back their accusations or support the government’s claim.
The Indian authorities had earlier asked these news agencies if they have any genuine pieces of evidence to prove that the videos are real. The Ministry of Home Affairs still maintains that these reports aren’t true and only stray protests with little gatherings have taken place in the valley.
This is not the first time Al Jazeera has rubbed the government the wrong way with regard to its reporting on J&K.
The channel was earlier suspended, and then denied an operating license last year, for its documentary on the valley which the government said was completely biased, and then for showing a map of India that showed Kashmir as a disputed zone.
In May, after the government denied to renew the channel's license, the channel agreed to not show the UN certified map that presents Kashmir in red, as "conflict zone." The channel, however, doesn't use the Survey of India-certified map of India either, that shows J&K as an integral part of the country.
The government on Saturday (August 10) had claimed that the Valley largely remained peaceful. However, four days after the Friday prayers, the government on Tuesday (August 13) admitted to a clash between a mob and security forces in the Soura area of Srinagar.
"Stories in media on a said incident in Soura region of #Srinagar. On 09/08, miscreants mingled with people returning home after prayers at a local mosque. They resorted to unprovoked stone pelting against law enforcement forces to cause widespread unrest," tweeted Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson on Tuesday.