After cremating the bodies of CRPF jawans, who were killed on duty at Pulwama, several of their grieving family members have been quoted in media reports as making the sobering assessment that “war and retribution” wouldn’t serve any purpose.
Soon after the Pulwama suicide attack, TV news channels started baying for “badla” (revenge). Some anchors dramatically fought back tears in the studio while others broke down while broadcasting live.
Such emotional reactions may have prompted an advisory from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. It asked TV news channels to be “particularly cautious” to not broadcast content that is “likely to encourage or incite violence…or which promotes anti-national attitudes.”
Most news channels however disregarded the advisory, or understood it too well some might say, and went full throttle screaming war against Pakistan. An anchor who claims his channel to be the No. 1 among English news channels, said: “apart from the military, Pakistan should be taught a lesson in different areas including business and commerce as well.” He stressed on a 1:10 ratio of headcount when it came to killing of soldiers of India and Pakistan.
In the Pulwama terror attack, Arnab Goswami found an opportunity to attack his previous employer, Times of India which came in for a scathing attack by him for holding Aman Ki Asha campaign for friendship and peace in collaboration with the Jung Group of Pakistan. He of course was baying for “badla”.
However, ex-servicemen and even many of the serving soldiers were hardly impressed by the “shouting brigade” and their coverage of Pulwama killings. Many called out media organisations for reporting wildly fluctuating quantities of RDX used in the car bombing. They wondered why the channels didn’t raise questions over intelligence failure. Some questioned media’s silence over the Prime Minister giving a miss to the ‘all party meet’ and flying off to campaign.
There was shock at the channels ignoring BJP leaders and ministers going about their business as usual, one of them singing and dancing the same evening at an event and another MP laughing and waving his arm from one of the funeral corteges carrying the body of a jawan.
“These media outlets boycotted us November last year when disabled soldiers—many of them who had lost limbs and some of them their eyes while combating terrorists and guarding borders—assembled in New Delhi to highlight their problems because of government apathy,” a spokesperson of Sabka Sainik Sangharsh Committee, an organisation working for the rights of soldiers, Nalin Talwar said, adding, “They need body bags of soldiers for TRPs. They are least bothered about soldiers.”
Calling out media’s coverage of security forces, Talwar complained that the same media had ignored ex-soldiers who had been staging a sit-in in the national capital demanding ‘One Rank One Pension’.
Drawing a stark contrast between “How’s the josh”, a popular catchphrase from the propaganda film “Uri: The Surgical Strike”, and real life hardships that soldiers face, “Central Reserve Police Force: CRPF” admin posted on its Facebook page:
“To make a film’s screenplay look impressive, background music and several sound effects are used so that the audience feel excited. But in real life nothing of that sort happens. In the name of light, camera and action, you have just sprawling wilderness! Bone chilling cold! Stormy winds! Torrential rain! Scorching deserts!”
“You can’t understand the valour and enthusiasm of a soldier while sitting inside a soundproof cinema hall while enjoying popcorns. If you want to feel it, go and meet widow of a soldier who died in peace time. Feel the pain of their orphaned children. Look into the eyes of their old parents, which keep waiting for their departed sons.”
“How’s the josh”, the post said, “This question will pierce their heart.”
Their stony stare would give you the answer: “Why Sir!”