Media Ignore and Misreport UN Kashmir Report

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) released its’ first-ever report on human rights violations in Kashmir. It cited human rights violations in both Pakistan and Indian occupied territory albeit the nature and magnitude of those violations differed drastically. The report acknowledged that violations in the Pakistan-controlled territory were of a ‘different caliber’ and of a ‘different nature’ while it called the Indian army out for 145 unlawful killings.

With drastically different natures of violations, one would think that the free press would portray it that way but that was not the case. Although CNN covered the report, their correspondent Swati Gupta presented Pakistani and Indian rights violations as being of the same nature.

Here is how CNN covered the UN report.

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The CNN correspondent equates Pakistani and Indian atrocities 3 times in the first 3 paragraphs without mentioning UNHCR’s assessment on the different magnitude and nature of rights violations. Even though CNN did present India’s narrative that the report was ‘fallacious, tendentious, and (politically) motivated’, it did not report on who the UN sources were. Among many, they included Indian Parliamentarians, the Supreme Court of India, India’s Chief of Army staff, Ministry of External Affairs, and a former vice-President.

So either each of those government institutions in India is ‘fallacious, tendentious, and motivated’ or the Indian attempts to undermine the Human Rights report is the epitome of a nefarious nexus between the Indian government and Indian media.

The New York Times did report the UN findings without expanding on the crucial details but during the same week, they ran an Op-Ed about the campaign for LGBT rights in India. While the Op-Ed had the top spot amongst opinions published on that day, to even find the first mention of Kashmir report, you had to scroll down 3 pages worth of computer screen.

Thus, the image of liberal India fighting for LGBT rights dwarfed any outrage that Indian forces’ treatment of Kashmiris merited. Moreover, the epidemic of mob killings emanating from viral photos on WhatsApp application in India was to be found further below the Kashmir report.

The point is that CNN and NYTimes covered the UN report albeit unethically and dishonesty. But BBC, the media arm of the British Government, has not even alluded to the report in any of their articles published about South Asia since. The only Kashmir pieces that did run only covered BJP’s pulling out of government alliance.

Even though the Kashmir report garnered no interest from the BBC, they covered scrapping of ‘tampon tax’ in India extensively with the story appearing on the homepage for three consecutive days. It tells you something about BBC’s priorities and the image of India they would like to construct. Eliminating the tampon tax means the ‘feminists are winning’ even as rape cases skyrocket and threats of gang rape become a common social media greeting for many a female journalist.

Blood gushing forth from vaginas is worth covering but army officers shooting teenagers in the face with pellet guns fails to garner interest from some of the best journalists in the world.

Case study: would the BBC cover it if Indian forces began shooting Kashmiris in their genitals?

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