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Manipur Attack: When Journalists Work as a PR-Machine of the State

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By Café Dissensus

Twenty Indian Army jawans were killed and seventeen others injured on the margins of the country in Manipur when their convoy was ambushed by insurgents, reportedly by the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (ULFWSEA).

The mainland journalists were swift to respond, as they always do, oscillating between a tightrope walk and singing blatant paeans to the Indian State.

In the subsequent outrage, we have forgotten that prior to the deadly attack, a woman activist, M Ruisoting, was fatally shot by the Assam Rifles at Bonyang village in the Chandel district of Manipur.

First Shekhar Gupta deliberately distorts Irom Sharmila’s statement after the Manipur ambush of the Indian Army.

“Regret to say, Irom Sharmila statement on ambush sickening. Blaming AFSPA for a provocative ambush in an area under truce! Shocking.” (https://twitter.com/ShekharGupta/status/606805289023635456)

“Sharmila tone insensitive & mocking. She’ll rue this ambush. It has buried chances of any AFSPA repeal in . Her “cause” lost for now.” (https://twitter.com/ShekharGupta/status/606813047378710528)

Here is what Sharmila said, “I condemn the killing strongly. But the incident took place in the area where AFSPA is fully applied.”

As an ardent critic of AFSPA, it was only logical for Sharmila to say that the draconian law and its misuse by the Army might have been responsible for anger in Manipur and could have led to the attack.

Next Barkha Dutt does it again!

She starts tweeting as if she is a spokesperson of the Home Ministry:

“Myanmar Covert Ops: Coming together of decisive political leadership, cutting edge Intel & most of all extraordinary valour of Army & IAF.” (https://twitter.com/BDUTT/status/608484025645342720)

“Bravo to @ for taking the bold risk in Myanmar and and all our soldiers and the IAF for your eternal valour ” (https://twitter.com/BDUTT/status/608355338023276545)

Dutt, once the torch bearer of liberalism of the NDTV kind and a critic of Modi, found herself in sticky wickets after Modi’s victory in 2014. Since then Dutt has been desperate to mend fences with Modi. Remember how eager she was to get close to Modi for a picture!

In India, State and the ruling party are often synonymous. Dutt’s brazen chest-thumping is one more attempt to be in the good books of the present-day government. And if this is the sort of idea she wants to promote, we shudder to think what sort of ideas her initiative, Ideas Collective, would produce. A neo-conservative think-tank?

While Dutt has significantly reduced her association with NDTV, yet her style of journalism says something about NDTV itself. NDTV has kept up the façade of liberalism for long. However, the signs of rot are already out in the open. A recent report suggests that the control of NDTV has been taken over  by a Reliance India Limited (RIL) company, Vishvapradhan Commercial Pvt Ltd, which provided an interest-free loan of Rs350 crore to Prannoy Roy in 2009. Mukesh Ambani has already bought off CNN-IBN and well on his way to acquire The Indian Express, if reports are to be believed.

The blatant symbiotic relationship between the State, crony capitalism, and journalism is all too evident at the present moment.

Is there any possibility that we would see a more objective form of journalism or a critique of such shameless PR act of journalists on behalf of the Indian State?

There have been some credible reports published in the newly emerging independent news platforms in India. Kishalay Bhattacharjee wrote against the futility of retributive violence in the North Eastern states citing examples from the past, when civilians were tortured, harassed, and murdered. Such operations barely managed to eliminate the insurgents.

While such news websites might produce some alternative reports and offer fresh perspectives, they don’t function as media watchdogs and don’t want to rub one of their own on the wrong shoulder.

WHY?

Simple. Because it’s a parasitical media ecology where all the major journalists and their minions are bound to each other in a complex web of dependence. That’s why you wouldn’t see any critique of their overt coziness with the government of the day.

What’s the hope then?

EXPOSE such journalists’ collusion with the STATE. And remind them that a journalist must think AGAINST the State and not WITH the State.

Has ‘ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT’ become such a dated word in today’s journalism?

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Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.

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Read the latest issues of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on the poet of love and protest, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, edited by Pooja Garg Singh, poet and writer.

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2 Responses to “Manipur Attack: When Journalists Work as a PR-Machine of the State”

  1. newsnation2012

    In a first joint operation on foreign land, Indian Army and Air Force carried on a rare cross-border operation in Myanmar to avenge Manipur attack. The approval for the ‘hot pursuit’ was made by none other than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising several eyebrows. The Army’s statement ‘Imminent threat, immediate response’ raised another heated debate that is this the Indian defence new security doctrine under PM Modi? Read More: Myanmar Strike

    Reply
  2. deepadileep

    Kudos for the article! Manipur and other north-eastern states are being given a step-motherly treatment by the mainstream media, with the entire focus on J&K. Such articles throw light on the prevailing situations.

    Reply

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