Srinagar, April 17: One definitely needs to visit, stay over a considerable period of time and experience to understand the realities of Kashmir. Unfortunately, that is not happening. As talks about the Kashmir crisis hogs newspaper headlines and television studio debates, most often realities of Kashmir are understood and presented through the eyes of outsiders, mostly voices from Delhi, who had the 'luxury' of visiting and working in Kashmir.
Former defence officials, politicians and journalists of repute, who had the opportunity, resources and funds to visit the Valley blessed with picturesque landscapes--swiftly flowing lakes, snow-capped mountains and tulips in full bloom during the spring--have become the official spokespersons of Kashmir. The natural beauty of Kashmir holds no meaning in times of unprecedented violence, crisis and rift between locals and the mainland India.
Your truth versus my truth
In this chaotic situation, indigenous voices are few and far between. As silence befalls the Valley, here comes the entry of viral videos depicting the myriad realities of Kashmir. As a battle of 'tug-of-war' between the Kashmiris and security forces restarted again, these viral videos showcased how both the parties were the victors and the vanquished at the same time.
The videos that trended on social media presented the grey area of conflict in Kashmir. If in one video, a jawan was seen heckled and assaulted by young men from Kashmir, in another a Kashmiri was tied to the bonnet of a moving army jeep and paraded in several villages to warn stone pelters.
A triangular battle
Now, let's watch the role of the third party--terrorists sponsored by Pakistan--in the Kashmir conflict through the eyes of camera. On Sunday a video surfaced where terrorists barged inside the house of a Peoples Democratic Party worker and forced him under gunpoint to mouth anti-India slogans and announce his resignation from his party.
By now, we can see all the stakeholders in Kashmir have realised the power of social media. That is why videos after videos on Kashmir are hitting various social networking sites.
Nobody knows who have shot these videos. Most probably captured by onlookers--witnesses to all these clashes--on their mobile phones and thereafter these videos made their way to social media.
Role of media
While the mainstream media by and large has taken a pro-India stand in the ongoing situation in Kashmir, the local media tries its best to stand behind the Kashmiris. Be it the issue of stone pelters, killing of civilians and hardships of army in conflict situation, there are always various versions of the same story.
Perhaps the conflict in Kashmir has reached such a point that demanding a 'neutral stand' is asking for too much.