by Aaryana Sethi
During the August 1947 Partition of Pakistan and India, the area of Jammu and Kashmir (JnK) was highly disputed. Eventually, a sort of peace was reached under President Nehru, who granted JnK gained “special state” status that allowed it a certain amount of autonomy and sovereignty—its own government under the prince and royal family. This August, the Article was repealed with the reasoning that it had been a “temporary provision” in the Constitution since 1949 and was therefore subject to Prime Minister Modi’s nullification. The repeal of the Article has led to a sharp increase in Indian troops in Kashmir, probation of the royal family, and a new, allegedly restrictive curfew for the citizens. Another provision of Article 370 that was recently repealed stated that no outsiders to the state of Kashmir were permitted to buy and own property in the region—a provision that preserved the Muslim-majority population of JnK. The following paragraphs give the perspective of a Pakistani (Dawn) news source, and two Indian (Hindustan Times + Times of India) sources and analyze each of their inherent biases.
The article from Dawn News, a Pakistani news source, shows a pretty biased, anti-India, version of the repeal of Article 370. Its opening paragraph accuses the PM of “stripping the region of its special autonomy,” and calls the presidential order “rushed and hurried.” It goes on to say that one of the primary motives of the Hindu-nationalist BJP (Bharat Janta Party – PM Modi’s party) was to “dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.” The article further asserts that the repeal of Article 370, which prevented Indian interference in JnK apart from matters of defense, foreign affairs, and communications, solely benefits the Hindu-nationalist government of India which now has greater control of JnK’s government. The last criticism that the article makes of this action by PM Modi is the curfew imposed on the previously freer citizens of the region. According to Indian press, the curfew is in place for the safety of JnK residents as the entire region makes this large transition—these press outlets site the same reasoning for India’s cutting off of JnK Internet, TV, and media sources. However, news outlets like Dawn News believe that this “censorship” of the citizens is just another way for the Hindu-nationalist government to exert power over the Muslim-majority region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hindustan Times + Times of India
The articles from the Hindustan Times and Times of India show the flip side of the Dawn News article—still in a highly biased manner. Where Dawn News spoke of the region losing its autonomy, the Times of India treats the curfew and isolation from the outside world as “temporary measures to ensure the safety of the region’s citizens.” The same explanation is offered for the sharp increase in Indian troops in JnK. As it relates to putting the government on probation, the Hindustan Times offers the explanation that the royal family of Kashmir was highly corrupt and unfit to rule. It further states (and praises) the slogan, “Kashmir Hamara Hai” which translates to “Kashmir is Ours” and has been used by PM Modi on several different occasions. It also quotes ministers of India that have said, “Modi hai to mumkin hai,” literally meaning, “If Modi is there, it is possible.” Both of these quotes show the bias of the Hindustan Times in favor of the Hindu-nationalist BJP administration—a bias that is also inherent in the new outlet’s name. “Hindustani” literally translates to “belonging to the Nation of Hindus,”—a name that often receives criticism for its obvious anti-Muslim bias– a major factor in the JnK conflict– since India has both Muslims and Hindus. However, a more unbiased and far more accepted term used today is “Desi” or “Bharati” which both mean “of the country” and refer to all of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Overall, while both news sources provided opposite viewpoints on the same conflict, neither was free of bias, and neither provided a whole picture of the conflict without praising one side or the other.
So, as shown above, there really is no ‘perfect news source–’ especially not on a complicated international topic like this one. The best we as readers can do is look at multiple different sources that might be biased toward the different sides (for example Hindustan Times vs. Dawn News), and form our own opinions with as much first-hand information as possible.