India Jammu & Kashmir 
What The Coverage of Article 370 Verdict Says About The Media in Kashmir

| 12/12/2023

by Special Arrangement

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ISHFAQ TANTRY/An Awaaz South Asia Special

Newspapers published in the Kashmir Valley splashed their front pages with banner headlines of the Supreme Court verdict upholding the abrogation of Article 370 by the Narendra Modi government, mostly relegating reactions by the state's political leaders to small reports on the inside pages, and offering little or no hint of dissenting sentiment in any of their pages including the editorial page.

“SC Upholds abrogation of Article 370”, was the front page banner headline in Greater Kashmir, one of the largest circulated newspapers in Kashmir valley, with photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah along with their reactions hailing the verdict.

A four-column report announced that it was “Business As usual in Kashmir”, and that life went on as usual. The report offered a second headline: “No orders of arrest, normal activities in valley: Police” , but did not record the locks on the front gates of opposition leader Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah. On its editorial page, the newspaper published an article by the Prime Minister hailing the verdict. The identical article has been published by several mainstream newspapers across the country.

A statement by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha rubbishing the house arrest claims by Kashmir political leaders was highlighted by almost all the newspapers published in Kashmir on their respective front pages, while the actual claims by the political leaders were reported on  the inner pages.

The reactions of these politicians to the verdict and the restrictions on their movements were tucked away on an inside page.

Rising Kashmir, the newspaper founded by the slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari, announced in its headline that “Curtains fall on Article 370”, offering another headline that this was "A Dawn of Naya Kashmir”.

It gave full prominence to the statements of PM and Home Minister over the SC verdict on its front page. The newspaper did not report political reactions expressing resentment over the verdict.

Notably, both GK and Rising Kashmir had quarter page advertisements on their front pages from the Reserve bank of India.

Kashmir Observer, another well read newspaper published from Srinagar, also had the SC verdict story on its front page, playing up statements by Modi and Amit Shah. It also had a report titled “SC Verdict: Life as usual in Kashmir, celebrations in Jammu”. Reactions of the political leaders of Kashmir and civil society groups voicing concerns at the verdict were pushed inside.

The newspaper carried a half page advertisement on its front page by the Jammu and Kashmir bank, one of the leading banks of the region with a majority government stake.

In its main editorial titled “Naya Kashmir”, the Kashmir Observer wrote: “ At the same time, it is crucial to acknowledge that legal battles alone might not address the deeper socio-political aspirations and grievances of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And PM Modi by his direct handling of Kashmir over the past four years has shown that he understands what needs to be done to usher in the political and economic trans-formation in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Kashmir Reader was a rare newspaper that reported a dissenting political view on its front page.

“SC Declares Art 370 Abrogation Valid, JK Constitution Redundant”, was its headline, and while it displayed the Modi-Shah statements, it also gave space to the concerns raised by PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and NC leader Omar Abdullah over the SC verdict on Page 1, headlining Mufit's remark that it was the “Defeat of the Idea of India".


Kashmir Times also included in its front page reportage of the SC verdict not just the views of Mufti and Omar, but also Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's reaction, terming the verdict “sad but not unexpected”.

The Pakistan Foreign Ministry's reaction dismissing the Supreme Court verdict found almost no mention in the majority of the newspapers published in Kashmir.

On X, Congress leader Salman Soz pointed out the transformation of newspapers in Kashmir. “On the Editorial Pages, Greater Kashmir, the newspaper that was at the forefront of holding governments accountable for decades writes an editorial on rented accommodation of govt schools and something on car loans - on the day of the SC verdict! Of course, Modi leads with a column".

He also commented on the absence of negative reactions to the verdict in the newspapers.

“There is no coverage of civil society reactions over the Supreme Court judgment. Why is Greater Kashmir simply printing what the government narrative dictates? Is it fear, is it greed, or is it an instinct for survival? It is not just Greater Kashmir. Scan all newspapers.”, he added


2023-12-25 09:42:45

This article appears to be biased for one RBI advertisement on the newspaper has to be verified secondly Mufti and Farooqs have vested interest , look at their contributions to Kashmir, it is zero it is not only then but many such shady politicians. Kashmir will be shining after a few years in all the fields ..just watch..please stop inciting.