Azadi on the Idiot Box. An analysis of television coverage of Kashmir

Research on television media

Project Report, 2011

141 Pages, Grade: 7.6

Free online reading


1. Introduction

2. Kashmir – Dark Paradise

3. Literature Review
(a) Defining nationalism
(b) Nations as imagined communities
(c) Imagining India
(d) Imagining nations in the media
(e) Narrating the national: Media‘s hegemonic role
(f) Bollywoodisation of TV news
(g) Theoretical framework
(h) Summary of relevant studies
(i) Concise history of television in India
(j) Round-up of television studies in India
(k) Representation of Kashmir in the Indian media
(l) Overview

4. Methodology
(a) Narrative theory
(b) News as narrative
(c) Methodological framework
(d) Narrative techniques in television news
(e) Analysing the discourse of news
(f) Alternatives
(g) Choice of medium
(h) Samples
(i) Data gathering
(j) Summary

5. Analysis of Data
(a) Section A: First phase of protests
(b) Section B: Second phase of protests
(c) Section C: Third phase of protests
(d) Section D: Fourth phase of protests

6. Conclusion
(a) Summary of findings
(b) Implications

7. Personal Reflections

8. Bibliography

9. Appendices


Writing this dissertation has been a tough but thoroughly enjoyable experience even if it has meant putting on a few more pounds and worsening my eyesight that much more. It wouldn't have been so enjoyable if not for the support of some kind souls. My heartfelt thanks go out to: Professor Geraint Evans whose organised and nonintrusive supervision ensured that I did independent research while simultaneously benefitting from his insightful comments and corrections; Professor Chas Critcher who helped transform my initial ideas to a worthy proposal with his wisdom, warmth and booming laughter; Professor Helen Fulton for writing a book that happily steers clear of academic jargon and for being so responsive to my SOS; my husband, Siddharth, who sparked off the idea for this research and who steadfastly cyber-suffered through my groans and moans; my parents, without whose blessings, nothing really can be brought into fruition; and finally, Atif Aslam, whose music held me when I was completely down and buoyed me when I was happier; and oh, not to forget, the many distractions of Facebook, without whose constant interruption, this dissertation would have been completed days before the submission deadline.


Kashmir has been a contested territory since the time of India‘s independence in 1947. In the summer of 2010, the deaths of a number of civilians, mostly teenagers, in renewed clashes with security forces led to widespread unrest. As the death toll mounted, public anger grew and cries of ‗ azaadi [freedom]‘ became louder, prompting some commentators to call this Kashmir‘s own intifada. India still suffers from low levels of literacy and public understanding of the conflict in Kashmir is largely mediated by television. This makes it surprising that there has been so little academic research on the representation of Kashmir in the Indian media in general and on television in particular. This is more unfortunate if one takes into account the passions which the Kashmir conflict arouses, the intensity of its coverage when it is ‗in the news‘ and the fact that India has the largest number of commercial news channels in the world.

This dissertation analyses the coverage of the 2010 Kashmir protests on two Indian commercial TV news channels, Times Now and CNN-IBN. It employs narrative analysis, which has the advantage of being a system that can effectively examine aural, visual and textual aspects of news discourse. The dissertation concludes that the discourse of news relating to the Kashmir protests was consistently constructed in nationalistic terms by both the channels and that opponents of this hegemonic discourse were labelled ‗anti-national‘. Much of the news was derived from press conferences given by State actors, unnamed ‗government‘ sources and other political actors, all of which promoted the nationalistic perspective. The dissertation also demonstrates how the news narrative was dramatic and sensational, with constant emphasis on personalities, storytelling and spectacle.


Around midyear in 2010, when I had gone home to Bangalore during term break, I attended a wedding. Walking through the crowded hall, I heard a large group of my relatives animatedly discussing the on-going Kashmir protests. Strangely, I felt I had already heard snatches of this raucous and shrill debate somewhere. It was when my uncle wondered angrily how these ‗anti-nationals‘ could ‗dare [to challenge] India‘ that it struck me — he was simply parroting the exact words I had heard on the television news the previous night.

Back home, I had time to reflect. It was not just my relatives. I had come across several people, including journalists, who were shockingly misinformed about the issues surrounding Kashmir. I myself was no better and my knowledge was as scattered as the next person‘s — a mixture of information and opinion largely gathered from the media, sometimes newspapers, mostly television. Here was an opportunity to not only better my knowledge but also explore whether my impression that television coverage of Kashmir was jingoistic and partisan was true. Hence, this study.

The power of the media in influencing the way we think and interpret the world and in constructing our identities as well as that of the ‗other‘ has been well documented. As Lippmann (1922) famously noted, news media are the main source of the ‗pictures in our heads‘ (p1-16). This project takes its departure from this point, which McLuhan (1964) had emphasized decades ago – that the only message is the medium.

Today, in India, where rapid socio-economic growth has resulted in an increasingly consumerist and influential urban middle class, (McKinsey report, 2007), a ruthless and intensely competitive media, especially television, is ‗sending targeted messages to specific segments of audiences responding to specific moods‘ (Castells, 2000: p12), with use of visuals and symbolic modes. Today, India too is facing an ever-increasing mediatisation of public life (Mazzoleni & Schulz, 1999) and excessive commercialism has meant that the mass media in general and the electronic media in particular have turned out to be what Altheide (1997) calls part of the ‗problem-generating machine geared to entertainment, voyeurism and the ―quick fix‖‘ (p647).

Liberalisation in the 1990s brought about a satellite revolution in India and created one of the world‘s largest television markets. Latest market reports indicate an exponential growth in television penetration[1] and this has also meant that there are as many as 65-odd news channels on air, an increase from just one in 1998 (Thussu, 2009).

Given this kind of reach and presence, the lack of research on Indian television is astonishing. As Adler (1981) says, it is easy to watch television but difficult to talk about it intelligently. He quotes the critic John Leonard who had claimed that ‗television is now our only way of talking to each other about who we think we are‘ (p xiv). This rings particularly true in India today where turning on the television is indeed like tuning into the collective consciousness, at least of its rapidly expanding middle class, if not of the entire society like Adler argues.

It thus becomes crucial to understand how television covers issues of national importance, especially those with complex histories and conflicts attached to them and those that raise questions of identity, human rights, national security and patriotism, among others. Kashmir is arguably the best example of such an issue.

For four months in 2010, the Kashmir Valley witnessed large-scale protests, locally considered to be a resurgence of the azaadi (freedom) movement. Normal life was severely disrupted. Amid many curfews, more than a hundred civilians, many of them teenagers, were killed in street clashes with central government security forces. Scores were injured. A series of placatory measures by the Union Government in October saw the protests lose intensity but recent events indicate that tensions are still bubbling beneath the surface, as they have been since India‘s independence.

This study aims to analyse how these protests were narrated on commercial television news in India. To do so, the methodology needs to take into account the ideology of news as a narrative, especially in the construction of conflict. Hence, it makes sense to anchor the analysis in narrative theory, based on the findings provided by Helen Fulton et al (2005) in their work ‗ Narrative and Media ‘. Narrative analysis has the advantage of being a method that allows a thorough examination of aural, visual as well as textual aspects of news discourse. The study will analyse eight samples (4+4) from two news channels, Times Now and CNNIBN.

Research questions and structure of dissertation

How do commercial television channels narrate the 2010 Kashmir protests? What is the dominant tone, who are the actors that speak both for and against, what perspectives are projected and why? What is the ideological stance of the coverage? What are the implicit and explicit assumptions made?

The research sets out with certain initial expectations, which are:

1. It is expected that the media narrative will be hegemonic and State-centric and will follow the dominant narrative of nationalism.
2. The Kashmir issue will be constructed as a territorial dispute with patriotic overtones — calls for independence will be portrayed as ‗insurgency‘ and ‗terrorism‘ and those who do not subscribe to this discourse will be termed ‗anti-national‘.
3. News coverage will be treated like ‗infotainment‘, with emphasis on sensationalism, spectacle, personalities and story-telling narratives – a ‗Bollywoodisation‘ of news.

The dissertation is divided into six chapters, including the introduction. Chapter 2 presents a concise overview of the historical background of the Kashmir conflict and the reasons for its inexorable connection to Indian nationhood. Chapter 3 provides a detailed assessment of theories on nationalism and media, which are crucial for this research. Specifically, it examines existing literature on nationalistic and hegemonic narratives in the Indian media and takes a brief look at studies on entertainment formats in television news. Chapter 4 on methodology discusses narrative as a method of analysis and explains its choice and relevance to the study. The analysis of data is conducted in Chapter 5 and the last chapter provides a summary of the findings, relates them to the research questions and presents a discussion of their implications. Finally, a page containing my personal reflections concludes the dissertation.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

“Gar Firdaus bar rue zamin ast... hamin ast, hamin ast hamin ast!”

(If there be a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!)

Persian couplet that Mughal king Jehangir famously quoted when describing Kashmir.[2]



Kashmir inspires clichés and always has. From the 18th Century poet Thomas Moore (1910) who exulted about its clear fountains and bright roses[3] to countless Bollywood songs about ishq and jannat (‗love‘ and ‗paradise‘), deliberately shot amidst its eye-numbing beauty, not to mention researchers who cannot resist a Persian poem or two when writing about this land.

Kashmir‘s sparkling lakes, green valleys and snow-capped mountains have ensured its constant presence in popular culture and folk memory. In fact, uniquely for India as indeed the world, it boasts of a recorded history of over 3,000 years. Unfortunately, the recent history of Kashmir, which was first mentioned in Rajatarangini (River of Kings) by 12th Century Sanskrit scholar Kalhana (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011), is a string of clichés of a darker kind – ‗bloodied valley‘, ‗vale of tears‘, ‗paradise lost‘ and the like.

This chapter is an attempt to provide a brief overview of this recent history to enable a better understanding of the contemporary dynamics of the Kashmir conflict, which most agree is extraordinarily complex. Its focus is the Valley and not the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as it is the Valley that has really been at the root of much heartache and tragedy, not to mention three wars and many skirmishes with Pakistan. And it is from here that challenges to India‘s notions of nationhood as well as her secular and democratic credentials have arisen and continue to do so.

Scholarship on Kashmir is huge and diverse, only further reflecting the complexity of the problem. As Raju Thomas (1992) says in his introduction to a volume of writings on the conflict, every analyst‘s interpretation of Kashmir, irrespective of how much it strives to be objective, evolves from a mixture of history, political argument, morality, nationality, mental images and emotional attachments. This chapter tries to provide some of these perspectives, undoubtedly subjective, to elucidate the dimensions of the problem and the debates on nationalism and self-determination it gives rise to.

Roots of the conflict

The origins of the Kashmir conflict can be traced back to the Treaty of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir in October 1947 or, as scholar Stephen Cohen (2001) says, to a ‗failed‘ partition, followed by a series of events and processes where ‗Indian and Pakistani leaders turned Kashmir into a badge of their respective national identities‘ (p18).

The leader of the All-India Muslim League (AIML) Mohammed Ali Jinnah demanded a partition on the basis of the ‗two-nation‘ theory. Fearing that Hindus and Muslims are ‗incompatible‘, he argued that in a united India, a ‗Hindu Raj‘ will replace ‗British Raj‘ and therefore, ‗Pakistan‘, an independent homeland for the Muslims of India must be created. Jawaharlal Nehru (a Kashmiri Hindu himself) and others of the Indian National Congress (INC) rejected this demand and argued that a diverse variety of peoples with a long, shared history and culture are quite capable of living in a secular and united country (Thomas, 1992; Ganguly, 1997; Bose, 1997). Eminent scholar Ashutosh Varshney labels these as religious nationalism and secular nationalism. There is also a third force working here, as he says – that of ethnic nationalism embodied in what Kashmiris call Kashmiriyat[4], a syncretic ethniccultural identity (Varshney, 1991).

Kashmiriyat was indeed one of the founding principles of the Kashmiri-nationalist National Conference (NC) party, which was launched in 1939 as an opposing force to the unpopular Kashmir king. Led by the charismatic Sheikh Abdullah, the party launched an INCsupported ‗Quit Kashmir‘ movement against the king in 1946 and soon after, at the time of India‘s independence, called for the creation of a ‗new Kashmir‘ with a democratic and socialistic agenda. When the British made their exit, the king of Kashmir was advised, like several other princely states were, to join either India or Pakistan. But it was not a particularly easy decision to take for a Hindu king in a Muslim majority state so strategically placed and his reluctance to join India in light of the 1946 movement was understandable (Bhattacharjea, 1994; Bose, 1997; Tremblay, 2009).

But soon, he was forced to decide. Thomas (1992) narrates in his account that according to the Indian version of history, the newly created Pakistan, fearing that it may lose Kashmir altogether, sent a large force of armed Pakistani tribesmen who looted and raped their way through Kashmir. The tribesmen were soon followed by the Pakistan army with the intent of annexing the state. This was popularly believed in India to have not only made Kashmiris sympathizers of the Indian cause but also forced the king to approach the Indian government for military assistance. It was then that the Indian government struck a deal with the king and said help would be sent only if he agreed to accede to India as, ostensibly, an entry otherwise would be illegal. The Maharaja acquiesced. According to the Pakistan version, the tribal invasion was a spontaneous reaction to the oppression of Muslims under the Hindu king‘s rule and the army came only to prevent their Indian counterpart from employing force, thus resulting in the first Indo-Pak war.[5]

Tremblay (2009) writes that it was made clear to the king that the accession would be conditional to its acceptance by the people of Kashmir once the invaders were cleared. The NC party, who had the support of most of the Valley Kashmiris, consented as did Nehru who asserted the rights of Kashmiris in a statement given to the Constituent Assembly of India and said a neutral international tribunal such as the UN would decide their future association. Subsequently, a major part of Kashmir was liberated from the tribal invaders and brought under Indian rule. A small part, today known as Azad (free) Kashmir, came under Pakistan and continues to be so. In 1948, an interim government came into being with Sheikh Abdullah as prime minister. The initial ceasefire line is now referred to as the ‗Line of Control‘ (after the Indo-Pak war of 1971).

Following the ceasefire, India had accepted the UN resolution calling for a plebiscite to determine what the Kashmiris desired. But there exists considerable confusion and great differences of opinion, both in political and academic circles, about why the plebiscite never happened[6]. The Indian government‘s argument for not holding a plebiscite was that Pakistan had failed to fulfil the UN pre-conditions[7] while Pakistan blamed India for not keeping its promise. A constitutional provision was made to accord Kashmir a special status, unlike any other state in the Indian union. Article 306A of the Indian Constitution (later enshrined as Article 370) restricted the Union Government‘s powers in the state to only defence, foreign affairs and communication (Thomas, 1992; Tremblay, 2009; Cohen, 2001; Bose, 1997; Varshney, 1991). These were called ‗temporary provisions‘, which reiterated India‘s commitment to the position that an ‗an opportunity would be given to the people of the state to decide for themselves whether they will remain with the Republic or wish to go out of it‘ (Lakhanpal, 1965 cited in Tremblay, 2009: p929).

That ‗opportunity‘ apparently never arrived. Instead, the opposite, it seems, was set in motion after Sheikh Abdullah‘s 1952 public airing of the option of Kashmir‘s independence, which was presumably so intolerable that he was deposed and arrested. Scholars like Tremblay (2009), Bose (1997), Cohen (2001) and writers like Kaul (2010) and Peer (2010) have documented how Kashmir was gradually integrated into the Indian Union as a matter of policy over the next three decades. There is no space here to go into details but to summarize, though Article 370 remained (and does to this day amidst much rancour that it fosters ‗separatism‘ in Kashmir), a number of political and constitutional measures were undertaken to further ‗integrate‘ the state into the Indian Union and to erase ideas of autonomy.

Notions of nationhood and Kashmir’s ‘integration’

Scholar Cohen (2001) analyses that this integration was important for India to establish her secular credentials (Kashmir being a Muslim majority state) while Pakistan continued to treat it as an unfinished business of Partition. Kashmir became, he writes, a matter of political prestige where the themes of dominance and hegemony were played out. Sumantra Bose (1997) is much more scathing. He declares that Kashmir‘s democratic aspirations were callously sacrificed at the altar of the Indian ‗nation‘ under the official ideology of ‗national interest‘ reflected in the efforts to centralize the state structure. Everybody, it seemed, had ignored the very people of Kashmir whom they were fighting so much about, but never for. A heavy price was paid by all concerned as a result.

More wars, militancy and cries of azaadi

As India sought to integrate Kashmir further, another indecisive war broke out with Pakistan in 1965 over the territory. As the integration deepened under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, many scholars point to the 1987 elections in Kashmir as the turning point (Saideman 2005; Varshney 1991; Tremblay, 1999; Ganguly and Bajpai, 1994). After these elections, which were widely believed to be rigged, cries of azaadi began to be heard.

Historians have documented how a sense of great discontent and anger built up thanks to a combination of bad governance, mismanagement and manipulation of Kashmiri politics by New Delhi. The secessionist movement, inspired by similar rebellions in Palestine, Iran and Eastern Europe, gained psychological and practical support from Pakistan that sensed an opportunity (Cohen, 2001; Varshney, 1991; Saideman, 2005; Bose, 1997; Ganguly, 1996).

Pakistan‘s support is never disputed but historians disagree on whether it was the decisive factor in starting the movement or it was just critical to sustain it.

The Indian response was expectedly realist. The military presence rose rapidly. By the mid-1990s, there was a full-scale shadow war with militants infiltrating in droves from Pakistan[8]. As Cohen (2001) puts it, Kashmiriyat had to compete with more virulent forms of militant Islam, an Islam alien to Kashmiris before the 1990s. What began as a selfdetermination movement got inexorably mixed up with radical Islam, prompting New Delhi to respond with ‗brute force‘, which scholars like Bose (1997) and Wirsing (1994) believe, only added oil to the fire.

The consequences were great. Over 100,000 Kashmiri Hindus fled from their homeland. Several hundred were killed and many spent lifetimes in refugee camps. In the Valley, more than 70,000 have been killed since 1990 and another 10,000 have gone missing after being arrested. Undocumented deaths, tortures and atrocities too were many (Kaul, 2010; Peer, 2010). As Varshney (1991) says wryly, Kashmiris were now fighting Indian security forces and not Pakistan-based invaders. ‗The fire of nationalism, ethnicity and religion‘ as he calls it, consumed everything in its wake (ibid, p999).

Since the turbulent 1990s, the situation has remained a stalemate, though militancy has reduced greatly in the past few years. In these years, India and Pakistan have had several border skirmishes as well as the Kargil war in 1999 and have come close to war at least two times after that – once after the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 and after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. More than half a million troops are still stationed in Kashmir, making it the most militarized place in the world (Peer, 2010). Tensions have continued to erupt periodically in the region and there are constant reports, though not often enough in the mainstream media, about blatant human rights violations by Indian security forces[9], plight of civilians caught in the crossfire and sporadic militancy in the Valley.

In the summer of 2010, the deaths of a number of civilians, mostly stone-pelting teenagers, in renewed clashes with security forces led to widespread unrest[10]. The Valley was gripped in a vicious cycle of protests and killings. As the death toll mounted (more than 100 officially), public anger grew and cries of azaadi became louder. Many commentators said that the Valley was in the early stage of an intifada.[11] A series of placatory measures by New Delhi defused tensions somewhat by October, but Kashmir continues to smoulder.


Kashmir‘s history is thus a tale of many tragedies. This research looks at television coverage of the 2010 protests in particular and bases itself on nationalist imaginaries[12]. Most telling perhaps here is the fact that Kashmir is as dense an idea in the Indian imagination as it is constant. Though no statistics exist to prove it, anecdotal and observational evidence suggests that this long, complex history is not universal knowledge in mainstream India. Only the flashpoints are remembered. This is why, any assertion that Kashmir is not an undisputed part of India, brings forth shriller insistence that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

One reason might be, as Kaul (2010) says, that since Kashmir and North-East were not directly under the British rule ever and hence were least involved in the nationalist freedom struggle, it is these regions that are least understood in the nationalistic imagination. She argues that the way Kashmir is viewed in the mainstream Indian imagination is connected to the wider evolution of Indian self-perception and the shift in its political and economic structure during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

For the average Indian, Kashmir is his or hers just like Punjab is or Tamil Nadu is. What distinguishes it is the pride about its physical beauty and the art it inspires – which unfortunately apply gloss over ignorance about its past. Combine this with the strong national narrative – long-nurtured by politicians, the media and even history textbooks – that most grow up imbibing and one gets a sense of why there is no real understanding. Bose (1997) calls this institutionalizing the denial of history.

Today, Kashmir is a distant nightmare for most Indians (Kaul, 2010). Worse, in the minds of many, it is an issue that is often seen through the emotional lens of national and religious identities, clouded by sometimes anti-Pakistan, often anti-Muslim feelings. Add to this, a new frightening mass jingoism about a ‗superpower-in-the-making‘ and chest-thumping at India‘s growing economic presence and it is not surprising that for many, it is blasphemous to say Kashmir is a disputed integral of India. For them, it is also unfathomable that Kashmiris might still want azaadi from the glorious nation they imagine, to borrow Benedict Anderson‘s thought, which, as will be presently argued, has come to hold more relevance than ever before, at least in the Indian context.

Meanwhile, peace eludes this small, battered land. Guns and stones may have gone silent now but there are fears that another summer of discontent is not too far away. Those dark clichés still stalk the Valley.

“What exactly is nationalism? I do not know; and it is extremely difficult to define. In the case of a country under foreign domination, it is easy to describe what nationalism is. It is anti-foreign power. But, in a free country, what is nationalism? Certainly it is something positive, though opinions may vary. Even so, I think a large element of it is negative, and sometimes we find that nationalism, which is a healthy force in a country, a progressive force, a liberating force, becomes – maybe after liberation – unhealthy, retrogressive, reactionary or expansionist and looks with greedy eyes on other countries, as did those countries against

which it fought for its freedom.”

Jawaharlal Nehru, India‘s first Prime Minister, speaking at the Lucknow Conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations in 1950.



Jawaharlal Nehru was always a man ahead of his times. This pragmatic, far-sighted assessment made at the Lucknow Conference 61 years ago and barely three years after India got her independence still remains a sound way to introduce the complexities of nationalism in today‘s globalised world, ostensibly different from Nehru‘s.

From the time it became a subject of inquiry in mid-19th Century, researchers have tried hard to shove the concepts of nation and nationalism into neat, square boxes, but in vain. Nationalism is as powerful a force in the modern world as it is elusive. It is kaleidoscopic and fluid, vast and heterogeneous. It spills over into many related disciplines – racism, identity, communalism and ethnicity – to name just a few and takes up several avatars – cultural, political, diasporic, separatist etc. It stirs up emotions, causes conflicts, unites strangers as well as divides people; sometimes, powerfully enough to kill. Not surprising then that its study over the years has been conducted by not just historians but also social scientists, anthropologists, philosophers, psychologists, linguists and media scholars, among others.

Perhaps the core but simple reason for the difficulties in its study is because nationalism means different things to different people. As Anthony Smith (1999) writes, the first lesson to learn about it is that it is protean and if scholars want to make any progress in understanding so complex a phenomenon, they have to first try to classify the many movements and ideologies that go under its name. This intangibility makes conceptualizing nationalism a difficult task, to say the least. Most scholars, who attempt to do so, acknowledge this at the very outset.

This research intends to examine how commercial television in India constructed and narrated the 2010 Kashmir protests that have been labelled by many commentators as Kashmir‘s own intifada. Kashmir has been a contested territory from the time of Indian independence in 1947.[13] Scholar Stephen P Cohen (2001) makes an accurate analysis when he writes:

There are two Kashmirs. Besides the physical territory, another Kashmir is found in the minds of politicians, strategists, soldiers and ideologues. This is a place where national and sub-national identities are ranged against each other. The conflict in this Kashmir is as much a clash between identities, imagination and history, as it is a conflict over territory, resources and peoples (p16).

Hence, any discussion that involves Kashmir reportage must be contextualized within the framework of nationalism broadly and specifically, for the purposes of this dissertation, within nationalistic and hegemonic narratives on Indian television.

Thus, an examination of the concepts of nationalism that are relevant to this research and the role media, especially television, plays in its mediation, becomes crucial. Extensive literature exists on nationalism and an assessment of it in both a global and local context and what theories particularly anchor this research will be undertaken. This chapter will then continue to examine nationalistic as well as hegemonic narratives in the Indian media, especially television. Specifically, it will focus on narratives of the Kashmir conflict, about which shockingly little has been written, considering the extent of reportage and its critical importance. Some attention will also be paid to the processes of television news as entertainment as they do matter in making sense of the causes and implications of the coverage.

Defining nationalism

In the introduction to their exhaustive reader on Nationalism, Hutchinson and Smith (1994) describe the primary difficulty as being unable to get scholars to agree on definitions of the key concepts, nation and nationalism. What they conclude is that though scholars are clear that the concept of nation must be differentiated from other concepts of collective identity such as gender, race and religion, there seems to be no agreement about what can be termed its

‗objective‘ role (in case of territory, language etc.) and its subjective disposition (will, memory etc.)

Walker Connor (1978) concedes this point and says the nation is a psychological bond whose ‗well-spring remains shadowy‘ (p379). He goes on to quote the definition of ‗nation‘ in the Dictionary of International Relations:

A social group, which shared a common ideology, common institutions and customs and a sense of homogeneity. ‗Nation‘ is difficult to define so precisely as to differentiate the term from such other groups as religious sects, which exhibit some of the same characteristic. In the nation, however, there is also present a strong group sense of belonging associated with a particular territory considered to be peculiarly its own (Plano & Olton, 1969 cited in ibid). (Emphasis added).

The point made both by Walker and by this definition is that the key word here is a ‗sense‘. Walter calls this a ‗bond‘, others call it a feeling. Simply put, while there may be a socio-political ‗reality‘ to nationhood, it does not take away its essential abstract quality.

The disagreements are equally pronounced when it comes to defining nationalism. For some, nationalism is an emotion, a sentiment, while for others, it is a movement, an ideology. Some emphasise the political aspects while for others, it is mostly a cultural and a social construct. Thus for Smith, the nation is an ideological movement to attain ‗autonomy, unity and identity‘ of a population who constitute a ‗nation‘, which refers to a particular kind of territorial community with shared history and culture born out of a human need to ‗bond and cleave‘ (Smith, 1986; 1994). In contrast to this view, for modernist scholars like Ernest Gellner, nationalism is not only a recent phenomenon but also a product of specifically modern conditions such as the transformation of agrarian societies into industrialized ones (Gellner, 1983 cited in Roy, 2007). For other nationalism researchers like Marxist scholar Tom Nairn, the emphasis is on the socio-political and materialistic causes for nation formation rather than emotional or psychological ones, though he does concede its ambiguous nature (Nairn, 1977 cited in Roy, 2007).

To even begin to make sense of what nationalism is, it is important to recognise that it is too complex a concept to be analysed with a close-minded, rigid perspective. The scholars who argue for these theories are undoubtedly right but what they sometimes tend to ignore is that these are processes and ideas, which constantly intertwine and overlap.

Nationalism is an ideology as well as a political movement. It is a sense of belonging as well as a ‗real‘ shared history, myths and culture. In short, there cannot be a stiff definition. Moreover, as Connor (1978) succinctly says, when analysing such a socio-political-cultural phenomenon, ‗what ultimately matters is not what is but what people believe is‘ (p380). It is in this context that Benedict Anderson‘s theory of nations as imagined communities rings true.

Nations as imagined communities

The argument in this research relies on Benedict Anderson‘s famous concept of the nation as an imagined political community. The nation, according to him, is a community because it ―is always conceived as a deep horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people not so much to kill, as willingly die for such limited imaginings‖ (Anderson 1991: p7).

Crucially, a nation is so imagined because its members do not know each other and ‗yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion‘ (ibid). Similar to his theory is Eric Hobsbawm‘s who sees the nation as a set of ‗invented traditions‘ comprising national symbols, mythology and suitably tailored history (Hobsbawm & Ranger, 1983 paraphrased in Smith, 1999: p39).

Anderson rejects the concept of a nation as somehow ‗primordial‘ and structuralfunctionalist positions like that of Gellner, which argue that the rise of nations corresponds to modern society development. Here, the interest lies in understanding the ways in which nations were imagined more than viewing it as a consequence of a modern industrialized society. Hence, instead of thinking of it as fabricated, nationalism should be understood in terms of its imagination and what processes and institutions make this imagination possible. This is where the media come into the picture.

Critics of Anderson tend to perceive that when he talks about imagined communities, he regards the nation as a wholly imaginary construct. It is important to remember here that by calling the nation an imagined community or an ‗invented tradition‘ as Hobsbawm does, these scholars are not denying its reality; nor are they saying that the nation is a fabricated entity. As Anthony Smith (1999) argues, ‗there is nothing contradictory about saying that something is both imagined and real‘ (p39).

Imagining India

In his seminal essay on ‗Imagining India‘, Thomas Embree (1989) extends Anderson‘s theory and says what makes this large geographical entity ‗India‘ is ‗a history of imagination exercised by Indians and outsiders alike‘ (p1). Rushdie (1983) goes a step further and says while India and Pakistan were liberated at the same time, Pakistan‘s problems began because it was ‗insufficiently imagined‘ (p87).

How sufficiently is India imagined then? Who indeed is an Indian? Simple questions, which many have failed to answer. Writing about India after its Independence, Naipaul (1990) says it was ‗a country of a million little mutinies... but there was in India now what didn‘t exist 200 years before: a central will, a central intellect, a national idea‘ (p517-518).

Notice that Naipaul talks about mutinies and a national idea in the same breath. As scholar Ashutosh Varshney (1993) says, disintegrative tendencies are deepening while at the same time pan-Indian nationalism is growing. This is most visible in the case of Kashmir. This schizophrenia combined with the flexibility with which the region has historically accommodated strikingly different cultures makes India a most puzzling case for theorists like Gellner who believe that ‗the state probably needs the homogenous cultural branding of the flock‘ (Gellner, 1983 cited in Roy, 2007: p13).

It is hard to dispute Victoria Glendinning when she says India was a ‗fiction‘ invented by the British in 1947. ‗It was a dream everyone agreed to dream. And now, I think there is actually a country called India‘ (Glendinning, 1981: p38 cited in Verdi, 2003: p29).

This was evident even during the actual struggle for Independence. Jyotika Verdi (2003), in her study on how cinema contributed to the national imaginary, says the nationalist movement ‗invented‘ Indian traditions and adapted ancient cultures to distinguish itself from the colonizer. This is as much a nod to Hobsbawm‘s approach as it is to Anderson‘s theory. Eminent sociologist Ashish Nandy puts it well when he says that the Indian nation is the most resilient form of imagined community (Nandy, 1995 cited in Verdi, 2003).

Imagining nations in the media

At the heart of Anderson‘s theory of nations, is the media. The role of the media in building a nation is one of the main thrusts of his influential work. Other scholars like Harold Innis (1972) also tried to make sense of the inexorable connection between media and nation but it was Anderson‘s work that was most influential. He clearly identifies public discourse as the way in which communities are imagined, constructed and maintained. He argues that the consumption of printed news ushered in an opportunity to share these ‗mediated‘ experiences among people who are strangers and physically distant from each other. He talks of newspapers creating ‗an extraordinary mass ceremony‘; constructing a reassuring sense of an imagined world shared by an entire nation; providing a common emotional connect and collective memories (Anderson, 1991). Newspapers, he said, ‗outlined the contours of the imagined nation and raised readers‘ awareness of common interests‘ (Anderson, 1983 quoted in Waisbord, 2004: p377-78).

Many other media scholars and social scientists have also explored journalism‘s role in our understanding of nationhood. The media today, more than ever, provides opportunities for the shared experiences that Anderson terms as central to the imagining of the nation. If a nation requires collective memories and shared experiences, then arguably, there cannot be a more suitable platform and resource than the media to nurture these sentiments.

Journalism regularly resorts to a stock of nationalistic discourses to report news (Waisbord 2002 cited in Waisbord, 2004). Others have argued that what we know as national consciousness today is essentially a mediatized consciousness and the narrative codes of television have transformed the way individuals comprehend and experience their national identity (Desaulniers 1986: 112-22; Luke 1995: p99; Zizek 1996: p192-98 cited in Nicolas et al, 1999: p26-28). The nation itself is constructed through various kinds of communication (Carey, 1988).

Since this project is interested in looking at nationalistic narratives on television, of particular relevance is research done on media‘s choices of narrative frameworks to talk about the nation. In recent years, media studies have indeed made significant contributions to nationalism research by trying to understand how the media articulates nationalistic sentiments. As Waisbord (2004) says, since nationalism can be equally associated with human solidarity as well as intolerance and exclusion, this ‗remarkable ideological elasticity‘ as he terms it, is enabled, constructed and narrated in the media. In a famous study, Herbert Gans concluded that TV news presents the nation as a unified entity and ethnocentrism forms one of the main journalistic values through which news is selected and presented (Gans, 1979 cited in Nicolas et al, 1999: p27).

Narrating the national: Media’s hegemonic role

In a comprehensive look at news cultures, scholar Stuart Allan says the complex ways in which the media project a sense of ‗us‘, a collective that either implicitly or explicitly positioned against ‗them‘, is expressed most often in news accounts concerned with the ‗nation‘ (Allan, 1999: p172). Media scholars have supported this argument in different ways.

For instance, while Edward Said talks about the media‘s tendency to be reductive and monochromatic while trying to reduce an unmanageable reality to ‗news‘ or ‗stories‘, others have analysed that the media have their greatest influence when they reinforce rather than change their audiences‘ opinion (Said, 1999: p48-9; Wilson & Gutierrez, 1995: p44).

While this is true of all forms of media, one can argue that it is more so in the case of television, a medium that is instinctively performative and dramatic. For instance, Todd Gitlin (1979), in his study on American television, suggested that it supported the larger hegemony of the state. ‗On American television, hegemony is reasserted in different ways at different times, even by different logics‘ (p254). In their extensive research on the British news programme Panorama, Stuart Hall and others looked at the contexts in which news becomes hegemonic by representing elite interests as general interests (Hall et al, 1981).

Hall et al (1978) applied Italian theorist Gramsci‘s concept of hegemony to establish how the media was manipulated by the elite to bring about greater state control (cited in Williams, 2003). Hall took Gramsci‘s ideas forward and argued that though the media might not always serve as a mouthpiece for the dominant class, they perform a hegemonic role by framing reality that is favourable to the elite through a ‗preferred reading‘ of the facts (Hall, 1977: p332). In fact, it is Gramsci‘s theory of hegemony that strikes many a chord in contemporary discourses on ideology and media, as Kevin Williams (2003) discusses.

Gramsci‘s theory of hegemony differed from that of Marx in its stress on the role of the civil society. He firmly believed that in the construction of national identities by states, the institutions of civil society – educational, religious, social and political – play a major role (Bocock, 1986). Gramsci argued that since hegemony has to be constantly fought for and maintained, this struggle is conducted in the media who ‗do not simply reproduce the views and beliefs of the ruling class but are crucial sites of struggle between competing ideas and beliefs…‘ (Williams, 2003: p150). Because Gramsci identifies the media as a means for mobilization of content and a site of struggle for dominant and subordinate views, his concept holds much relevance for this study.

‘Bollywoodisation’ of TV news

As said earlier, it is also important to take a look, however cursory, at the culture and processes of television news to make sense of why they do what they do. There exists a rich tradition of scholarship on news as entertainment. Some of the major studies include writings of Bob Franklin who observed that ‗infotainment‘ is rampant (Franklin 1997); Colin Sparks who spoke about the tabloidization of news (Sparks, 2000 cited in Thussu, 2007); Tracey who wrote extensively on the trivialization of public discourse (Tracey, 1998) and Andrew Marr who discussed how news is now designed to produce an emotional reaction at all costs (Marr, 2004: p381 cited in Thussu, 2007). The tension between informing the public and entertaining is perhaps as old as the very existence of news outlets and to comprehensively look at these studies is beyond the scope of this small-scale research.

Suffice here to summarise one particularly convincing research by scholar Daya Thussu who wrote a book and several papers on news as entertainment. Of crucial significance to this project is a chapter that discusses ‗infotainment‘ on Indian television news (Thussu, 2007). This chapter examines the impact of a ratings-driven environment on commercial broadcast news and analyses how the 24/7 news cycle strives to provide a constant stream of visually arresting, emotionally charged spectacle that boosts up ratings and keeps production costs low (ibid).

Theoretical framework

In order to establish a theoretical framework, which allows one to now focus specifically on how the narrative of Kashmir is constructed in nationalistic terms on Indian television, this section, for the sake of coherence, will be divided into four sub-sections:

(a) A summary of three particularly relevant studies in America and Israel on national narratives on television, whose findings can reasonably be expected to be mirrored in India.

(b) A concise history of television in India to better understand its strong connections to nationhood.

(c) A round-up of the studies done in India on nationalistic narratives on television.

(d) A brief look at the nature of representation of Kashmir in the Indian media.

(a) Summary of relevant studies: In a research on representations of protest in American TV News, Ginna Husting (1999) concludes that not only is the national imaginary in the media hegemonic but news is constructed as a ‗mythic community‘ where social activists, like enemies, become ‗all that the people of the imagined community are not: militant, terrorist, irrational, unpredictable, unreasonable‘ (p160).

In another study on manufacturing nationalism post-9/11 in the American media, Shehla Burney (2002) concluded that TV and the print media ‗construct a compelling narrative of hegemonic, state-oriented and self-centred nationalism that is designed to undercut discontent, deflate economic uncertainty, subvert critical thinking and end moral dissent against war‘ (p142).

In an earlier framing research on television news portrayals of the Palestine intifada in Israel, scholar Tamar Liebes (1992) concluded that the reading is ‗hegemonic‘ not because TV news is the official spokesman of the rightist government but because its professional code inadvertently is biased in favour of establishments, majorities and popular norms. Crucially, the findings also reveal that while the violent actions of the protestors is narrated as an expression of their demonic behaviour, the violent action of the soldiers is justified as situational. Further, he says that the news hardly showed the human suffering on the Arab side and the situational or ideological context within which protests might be legitimate (p360381).

(b) Concise history of television in India: Television in India began in 1959 with only one station in Delhi that broadcast programmes for a couple of hours. It began its life as Stateowned and State-controlled. For the most part, television was and continued to be till the satellite TV revolution, primarily geared towards the project of nation building (Joshi, 1989 cited in Mankekar, 1993: p543) In this gender-based study, Mankekar goes on to discuss how discourses about the nation were directly incorporated into the transmissions.

From the early eighties to mid-nineties, the national channel (and the only channel) broadcast a range of dramas, current affairs and documentaries that drew upon larger historical changes from the point of view of the Indian nation and did hegemonic work for the nation state (Asthana, 2008). A series of mythological soap operas during this period such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Chanakya consistently portrayed images of rashtra and desh that is state and nation. Asthana goes on to analyse that these ‗epic‘ narratives provided ‗ideological mediations‘ in an India beleaguered by separatist movements (ibid). In a seminal book on nationalism in Indian television, Arvind Rajagopal (2001) argues convincingly that it was the broadcast of these mythological soap operas that sparked off a rapid rise in Hindu right-wing nationalism.

Today, the Indian television industry is among the fastest growing in the world and though there have been some studies (which will be discussed presently) that have looked at the satellite explosion in India and television discourses on democracy and construction of the nation in terms of globalisation and right-wing politics, much analysis on nationalist narratives on commercial television remains to be done. This project is indeed a small step in that direction.

(c) Round-up of television studies in India: Studies of television in India have been few and sporadic. Significant research has been done only in recent years and these span a wide variety of television genres – from documentaries and dramas to current affairs and news. A large percentage of the research, understandably, focuses on the national channel Doordarshan since satellite television came to India only in the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, a brief summary will be helpful in contextualizing the point of departure for this research.

In perhaps a first-of-its-kind study, Shanti Kumar (2006) looks at nationalistic narratives in satellite television in India when they first emerged in the 1990s. He argues that rapid transformations of electronic capitalism and the growing competition among television networks have necessitated ‗radical re-imaginations‘ of nationalism in post-colonial India. He does not confine himself to a particular genre but looks at soap-operas, advertisements and cultural programmes.

In a similarly exhaustive research, Arvind Rajagopal (2001) looks at the connections between narratives of the nation on Doordarshan in the case of mythological dramas and argues convincingly that they were largely responsible for the rise of right-wing ‗Hindu‘ nationalism as mentioned before. Nalin Mehta (2007) has conducted an off-beat study that looks into ‗cricket nationalism‘ – the linkages of Indian satellite television with cricket and what this means for notions of identity and Indian nationhood.

If one looks specifically at television news, two recent studies stand out for their relevance to this research.

The first among these is a study on constructing the ‗national‘ on Indian television news. It specifically examines how national politics is covered by four commercial TV channels and argues that the ‗national‘ is a segmented discourse speaking either to a national culture (if such a thing exists) or to the class interests of middle and upper class Indians. Further, it suggests that this process of segmentation is hegemonic (Kavoori & Chadha, 1998).

The second is scholar Daya Thussu‘s work on television news coverage of the 1999 Kargil war and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. In both the studies, Thussu concludes that television news coverage was most effective in whipping up national sentiment. Crucially, in the case of the Kargil war coverage, he says private television networks ‗demonstrated a greater degree of patriotic zeal than the state propaganda machines‘ (Thussu, 2001: p210) while he likens the coverage of the Mumbai attacks in Indian commercial television news to tamasha, a bawdy form of Indian folk theatre (Thussu, 2009).

In fact, Thussu‘s studies are among the few that offer credible parallels to the examination of the coverage of Kashmir on commercial TV news. Incredibly, despite the passions the Kashmir ‗problem‘ arouses and despite the reams of newspaper articles and hours of television coverage, research on the representation of Kashmir in the Indian media in general and television in particular remains woefully lacking.

There are a few significant studies though; conducted on the representation of the Kashmir conflict in the Indian press. I believe it is reasonable to suppose that the findings in these print studies is likely to be mirrored in television because (a) there is dense media crossownership across India that leads one to naturally suppose that they have similar priorities and preoccupations (b) both mediums are striving to reach the same middle-class audience and (c) it has been proved time and again that all modes of communication employ similar traditions and values while conveying news and hence the representation of Kashmir (or anything else) might said to be on similar lines.

(d) Representation of Kashmir in the Indian media: That said, what little findings exist are highly telling and significant.

In a content analysis of English newspapers‘ nature of coverage of the Kashmir conflict and the human rights situation in the Valley, Teresa Joseph (2000) concludes that issues such as Kashmir, which ostensibly have a bearing on national security, are portrayed from a State security perspective and the newspapers are constantly reinforcing the standpoint of the Indian government with regard to Kashmir. She states forcefully that the dominant discourse on Kashmir is characterized as a matter of national prestige and any human rights abuse within the Valley is depicted merely as part of a ‗proxy‘ war waged by Pakistan to defame India. She goes on to suggest that the voices of dissent who do not subscribe to the dominant, statecentric view are portrayed as ‗anti-national‘ or being actual or potential agents of external powers, thus setting forth a paradigm of patriotism.

In a comparative framing analysis of the coverage of the Kashmir conflict in Indian and Pakistani newspapers, researcher Chindu Sreedharan (2009) concludes that the coverage was vigorously state-centric and intensely negative. Importantly, his research has revealed that the news stories were mostly culled from governmental sources, with little emphasis on counterviews and alternate perspectives.


The reviewed literature suggests that the study of nationalism and the narratives of the nation and nationalism in the media is a vast, heterogeneous but rich field with significant and revealing contributions made by many eminent scholars over a period of several years. Though nationalism as a concept is intangible and difficult to define, many researchers have done so, some more effectively than others. Of particular value is the concept of nations as imagined communities as proposed by Benedict Anderson. Anthony Smith, Eric Hobsbawm and others have also provided excellent analyses in this respect and the approaches laid out by these scholars are found to be helpful for this study.

The chapter next explored how this theory is relevant particularly to the imagining of India as a nation, with all its histories of diversity and mutinies. Further, the media‘s hegemonic role in a people‘s concept of nationhood was examined by summarising the research conducted in this regard. An outline of the culture of television news as entertainment was sketched with particular reference to scholar Daya Thussu‘s work. Though there have been significant studies on nationalistic narratives on Indian television, few have been explicitly concerned with the coverage of Kashmir. Thus, there is rich potential to investigate how commercial television news narrates the Kashmir conflict, which is so intrinsically connected to identities and notions of nationhood in India. This study, though very modest, hopes to fill this academic vacuum to a small extent. Specifically, it aims to better our understanding of how commercial television news operates regarding Kashmir, about which there is great interest and concern but woefully little exploration.

There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there‟s only narrative.

E. L. Doctorow (American author and editor)



Human beings are storytellers. Stories are at the very heart of our life and human experience. We communicate, we imagine, and we see, hear and listen through stories, every day of our lives. As Sharon Sperry (1981) says, we are ‗shape-makers‘, ‗metaphorists‘ and ‗incorrigible imagists‘ (p297). Which is why, in one form or the other, human beings have always narrated tales. Journalists are no exception.

There might be many journalists who argue they only report ‗facts‘ and though their articles are called ‗stories‘ in everyday lingo, they don‘t necessarily resort to storytelling. But, as Tuchman says, to call a news report a story is not to brand it as fictitious but rather alert us to the fact that ‗news, like all public documents, is a constructed reality possessing its own internal validity‘ (Tuchman, 1976: p97 cited in Schudson, 1997: p8).

At the same time, in a world overtaken by the media, which is only getting more ubiquitous and intrusive, we interpret the events around us as well as understand our realities through the stories narrated to us by the media. Many theorists have made the point that as long as we exist and speak, we will depend on narratives for imagination and understanding (Colby & Peacock, 1973; O‘Shaughnessy & Stadler, 2002). Crucially, as Helen Fulton says, because the media are today the major players in narrative production and consumption, the stories that seem most ‗natural‘ to us are the ones which the media narrate to us (Fulton et al, 2005).

Narrative theory

Sperry (1981) simply defines narrative theory as an examination of the strategic and aesthetic devices, which develop when someone tells a story to a reader or a listener. Though narrative theory has its origins in literary criticism and rhetorical analysis, in recent years, it has received a fair share of attention from scholars of several disciplines, especially from those in Social Sciences and Humanities. This was inevitable. As Vincent (1989) says, the characteristics of the social world created by a narrative is the vital link among its components – the who, what, where, why, how and when of acts and events. Barkin and Gurevitch support him when they call narrative a means of understanding the social world (Barkin & Gurevitch, 1987 cited in Vincent et al, 1989). Narratives help us construct our view of the world, allowing us to share stories within culturally and socially explicit codes of meaning (Barthes 1977, 1979 cited in Zelizer, 1997). Many other scholars too have focused on ‗narrativising strategies‘, narrative frames and themes in communication (Fisher, 1987; Lucaites & Condit, 1985; Bird & Dardenne 1988; Mander 1987; Barkin & Gurevitch 1987; Bennett & Edelman 1985; Campbell & Reeves 1989; Carragee, 1990 cited in Zelizer, 1997).

Whether literary critics or social scientists, all narrative theorists recognise that we can understand the social and cultural milieu around us by analysing the manner in which we construct our stories. As Barbie Zielzer (1997) puts it, narrative is helpful in explaining journalism by stressing elements which are ‗formulaic, patterned, finite, yet mutable over time‘ (p26).

News as narrative

Perhaps the most significant argument for analysing the narrative qualities of news is the one propagated by Bird & Dardenne (1988) who argue that such an analysis enables us to look more critically at whose values are encoded in the news – in other words, whose stories are being told and why. Anthropologists Colby and Peacock (1973) say the rise of mass media lends itself more to stories than sermons and strengthens the position of expressive culture (cited Bird & Dardenne, 1988). Since expressive forms are narratives, it becomes increasingly relevant to study them for a better grasp of social and cultural contexts in which the media operates.

Barkin notes that there are villains and heroes in every [news] paper and the storylines confirm to the use of suspense, conflict, defeat of evil and triumph of good that have been the basic tools of artistry of past storytellers through which they have controlled their audience response (Barkin, 1984 cited in Bird & Dardenne, 1988: p344). Cawelti believes the ‗journalist-storyteller‘ uses culturally embedded story values and hence is similar to the folk storyteller (Cawelti 1978 quoted in ibid). What he is essentially saying is that the very news values themselves, in a sense, make up the codes of storytelling.

Fulton takes this argument forward. She analyses that news reporting uses these codes to mythologise and hence ‗normalize‘ universal truths and present ‗objectivity‘ to the audience, ostensibly without any ideological mediation. In other words, by constructing these ‗objective‘ narratives of who we are, the media effectively separates ‗us‘ from ‗them‘ – the others who don‘t understand the stories we believe are true. ‗Media narratives tell us stories about who we think we are‘ (Fulton et al, 2005: p7).

Nowhere is this more obvious than on television. Sperry (1981) has a valid argument when she says, television news, with its presenters, voice-overs and increasingly blatant cinematic devices, has taken over the role of storyteller/mythmaker so effectively that it is often regarded as the most authoritative and hence ‗truthful‘ source of news. Moreover, the very nature of television with its public image as a medium of relaxation and entertainment (in contrast to the more serious and intellectual image of newspapers) makes it, as Hallin says,

‗more eager to please its viewers‘ (Hallin 1993: p91 cited in Fulton et al, 2005: p142). What better way to please viewers than to narrate a story!

Anne Dunn (2005) explains how, from 1960s onwards, commercial television news borrowed the narrative structures of entertainment programming. She goes on to quote Baym, who analyses that from the 1970s, because of the emphasis on visual codes in television, there was a ‗greater privileging of narrative and the journalist‘s work of narration‘ (Baym 2004: p284 cited in Fulton et al, 2005: p142).

Perhaps the last word on why news ought to be studied as a narrative should go to former NBC executive Reuven Frank, who in a 1963 memo to his staff, wrote, ―Every news story should, without any sacrifice of probity or responsibility, display the attributes of fiction, of drama. It should have structure and conflict, problem and denouement, rising action and falling action, a beginning, middle and an end. These are not only the essentials of drama; they are the essentials of narrative‖ (Quoted in Fulton et al, 2005: p144).

Methodological framework

This project is concerned with examining how commercial television news in India constructed the narratives of the Kashmir protests that took place between June and October 2010. Thus anchoring the analysis within narrative theory seems apt and promising. But it is important to position this broader analysis within a clear-cut theoretical framework specifically concerned with narrative and television news. To do so, this project will rely on the findings provided by Helen Fulton and others in the influential work ‗ Narrative and Media‟ (Fulton et al, 2005). The book draws on research in structuralist and post-structuralist theory as well as functional grammar studies by Halliday and others. Also, the Barthesian idea of ‗myths‘, as Fulton herself says in the introduction, forms an undercurrent to many ideas throughout the book.

Crucial to this project is Helen Fulton‘s summary, of the various strands of scholarly thought on media narratives, into three ideas:

(1) Narrative as a cultural production where the stories are produced and sold as a commodity.

(2) Stories as ‗myths‘ we tell about ourselves and the world around us and our ideological positions with regard to these myths.

(3) How the audience are positioned as subjects of the narrative.

Since this project is not concentrating on audience response as that will make the study unviable at present, it will focus on the first two points. More specifically, of particular relevance to the project, are the sections on television news as narrative by Anne Dunn and the chapter on analysing the discourse of news by Helen Fulton.

Narrative techniques in television news

Dunn focuses on the narrative analysis of television news by examining the television medium, with its images and sound, as both a video narrative and an audio narrative structure.

She talks about contemporary television news‘ ‗televisual‘ structure that encompasses the visual, the assemblage of shots and the audio aspects. Other techniques and codes she stresses on are the opening sequences, the studio environment, the dialogical aspects of the newsreading by the presenters and the voice-overs, their appearance, mode of address, the musical elements, the sequencing of the shots, the camera motion and editing styles and the role of the news package with its mimetic and diegetic images (Fulton et al, 2005).

Analysing the discourse of news

This project recognises that an analysis of television news by focusing on its audio-visual elements is important but that does not complete the picture. As Fulton puts it, any interpretation of news discourse must be grounded in an understanding of how language choices in a particular context construct certain meanings (Fulton et al, 2005). Fairclough (1989), in fact, calls language ‗a form of social practice‘ (p20).

In this regard, a semiotic analysis, wherein specific linguistic choices and their semiotic potential are identified, is effective to understand how meanings are made and ideologies are reinforced. As Fulton says, semiotics is at its most effective when combined with an articulation of linguistic structures and choices. The system she offers originates from Michael

Halliday‘s concepts of ideational, interpersonal and textual metafunctions of language, which has the advantage of being a system that can be applied to written, visual as well as multimodal mediums. This project will follow the technique she proposes – an analysis of news discourse through an examination of linguistic choices and their socially constructed meanings.


I have opted for narrative analysis, which, of course, rules out other kinds of approaches for media analysis. Narrative comes under the broad umbrella of qualitative analysis. A number of these approaches, both qualitative and quantitative, such as framing analysis, content analysis and discourse analysis etc., have been outlined by Deacon et al (1999). These are undoubtedly potential alternatives as are interviews, focus study groups and participant observation. But I believe that a method is not chosen for the study; the type of enquiry chooses the method.[14]

This research is interested in examining the nature of the coverage of the 2010 Kashmir protests in sections of the English language commercial television news in India. Hence, quantitative methods like content analysis, which emphasize the so-called ‗objective‘ identification of patterns, might not be helpful in providing answers the project is seeking.

Content analysis might bring in ‗rigour and neutrality of natural ―scientific‖ inquiry to the study of social and human phenomena‘ as Berelson famously says, but it would be an insufficient way to understand how stories are constructed on television; how narratives are developed and expressed through this entertaining, audio-visual medium (Berelson, 1952:

p147 cited in Deacon et al, 1999: p115).

This research will not benefit from being boxed into numbers and statistical analysis though these methods have their uses in other forms of research like understanding frames, television news patterns etc. Here, the intention is to conduct a more flexible and detailed analysis of the stories that are told, who tells them and to whom, what meanings are derived and what ideologies are represented. It is vital for a research such as this one to have the room and opportunity to examine, interpret and explore context and meaning in depth without a predetermined set of categories.

Choice of medium

There are concrete reasons why this study focuses on Indian commercial television narratives of the Kashmir protests. Liberalisation in the 1990s transformed the television landscape in

India and created one of the world‘s biggest, if not the biggest television market. In 2009, television penetration is estimated to have grown by 9 per cent, according to market reports. This has had a huge impact on the television news sector making India the country with the largest number of commercial news channels in the world – one in 1998 to 65 in 2009 (Thussu, 2009).

Given this undeniable importance, the lack of critical attention paid to television is astonishing. It is a medium that‘s often attacked by critics but one that rarely receives the kind of analysis that is accorded to other media, much less so in India. As Cottle puts it, analysing television news is particularly important in India with its ‗extraordinarily diverse and fractured polity‘ to understand how television ‗variously enable[s] or disable[s] the public elaboration of conflicting interests and identities...‘ (Cottle & Rai 2008: p77). It thus becomes all the more vital to study the impact of television rather than print when it comes to coverage of conflicts, which have a bearing on national (and international) security and which also raise issues of national identity, insurgency, human rights and patriotism, among others. The long-running Kashmir dispute is one such.

For the purpose of this research, two leading English TV news channels have been chosen – Times Now and CNN-IBN. The choice reflects an effort to cover the major English news channels, based on their popularity and reach.

Times Now is a 24-hour English news channel owned by Bennett, Coleman & Co, the same people who own the largest circulated English daily in India, ‗ The Times of India‟. The channel, according to its website, operates out of Mumbai, has a presence in 15 other cities and is complemented by the vast news gathering team of TOI and its sister publications.

CNN-IBN too is a 24-hour English news channel and is jointly owned by Global Broadcast News (GBN), a Network-18 company and Turner International in India. According to its website, the venture gets the support of CNN ‘s extensive global news network.

Headquartered in New Delhi, it claims to be running 20 bureaus nationwide.

According to the latest available Target Rating Points (TRPs), in week 10 of 2011, CNNIBN was leading with a market share of 43 per cent followed by Times Now with a market share of 27 per cent. These ratings are monitored every week by TAM (Television Audience Measurement) Media Research, a TV viewership analysis firm in India. The firm has one of the largest ‗Peoplemeter‘ TV panels in the world with approximately 30,000 individuals sampled from towns with population of over 100,000. It measures television viewership of audience for the 300-plus TV stations operating in India.[15]


The samples for this study consist of eight news clips on the Kashmir protests from the nightly news programs of these two channels. The nightly news programs have been chosen because they are on air at primetime; they get the highest TRPs and the highest advertising revenue and are usually advertised as the flagship programs of the channels. Four program clips from each channel covering the time range of the protests from June to October 2010 have been selected.

Admittedly, there exists a large pool of possible samples but it has to be kept in mind that this is a small-scale research. Even so, care has been taken to choose news clips that represent the key developments and events during the entire period of the protests in an effort to steer clear of selective sampling and possible researcher bias.

I, in fact, had access to nearly 60 samples from both the channels but had to painstakingly comb through all of them and choose a few, keeping in mind the scale and time constraints of the study. Importantly, I tried my best to ensure that the news clips from both the channels are covering exactly the same issue during the same week, if not on the same day, in order to be able to do a legitimate comparison. It is believed that these samples are potentially rich sources for a study of this scale and kind and will provide enough material for a detailed analysis.

The break-up of the sampling time period is as follows:

1. Initial phase of sporadic protests (June 2010) – one news clip from each channel on the same day (29 June 2010).
2. Protests picking pace, spreading to all districts of Kashmir (July-August 2010) – one news clip from each channel covering the same issue telecast on 30 June and 9 July respectively.
3. Sudden spurt of violence during Eid celebrations (September 2010) – one news clip from each channel on 11 and 12 September 2010 (Eid days) respectively.
4. Protests winding down but intensified coverage due to writer Arundhati Roy‘s controversial statements on Kashmir (October 2010) – one news clip from Times Now telecast on 27 October and two short news clips from CNN-IBN telecast on consecutive days (26 and 27 October).

(Note: For practical purposes, these two short news clips have been considered as a single sample).

Data gathering

I began collecting date right from the time I initially decided to take up this study. Both the channels selected have a completely updated website that not only have archives of the news programs but also run Live TV on their homepages. Furthermore, they have dedicated official YouTube channels where there is an archive of the news clips. I ran a detailed search on both the websites and downloaded all the available news clips covering the Kashmir protests from June to October 2010. These samples are in video formats and were downloaded in Swansea, United Kingdom, where I am working from.[16]


Stories are the essence of human experience and journalists have always been storytellers. The stories narrated by the media, because of its ubiquitous quality and authority, appear to be most natural and ‗true‘ to us. This is why narrative theory, initially originating from literary criticism and rhetorical analysis, is receiving great attention from communication scholars.

Narrative analysis of news is proving to be more than relevant for understanding the social and cultural context in which media operates. This holds especially true for television, an audio-visual ‗entertainment‘ medium which is always constructing reality by telling them as stories to attract its audience.

This study aims to investigate how two commercial television news channels in India, Times Now and CNN-IBN constructed the narratives of the 2010 Kashmir protests in India. Thus the methodology needs to take into account the ideology of news as a narrative, especially in the construction of conflict, as in this case. Hence the analysis will be anchored in narrative theory, based on the findings provided by Helen Fulton et al in their work

Narrative and Media‟. Especially of relevance in this context are the sections regarding television news narratives and ideology and analysis of the discourse of news.



Television is often at the receiving end of sharp criticism and not without reason. Scholars have long accused it of sensationalising news, over-simplification, ideological biases and more (Robinson, 1981; Sperry, 1981; Thussu, 2009). But TV news remains a popular source of information (despite the internet) and still enjoys high credibility (Ellis, 1992; Sperry, 1981; Dunn, 2005).

This dichotomy works perhaps because of the structure of the medium rather than its content. Words and images have a different architecture in television when compared to print. But TV news is a mediated reality too, despite claims to the contrary, which arise out of the apparently self-evident nature of the visual. A reality narrated aurally and visually but also through spoken commentary or text. What images signify and what their point of reference might be is not obvious until there is a text that anchors them. As Deacon (1999) says, what is on screen is a visualisation of the discourse. Thus, analysis becomes more complex.

The objective here is to analyse how commercial television employs narratives to construct and normalise its version of ‗reality‘ – in this case the Kashmir protests of 2010. The intention is to analyse how much of this tele-narrative is hegemonic and nationalist; how the aural, visual and textual codes are employed, if they are, to tell an entertaining story and thus presumably hold audience attention. For the sake of coherence, the analysis will be split into four sections, corresponding to the four phases of protests, where the samples from both the channels will be compared and contrasted.[17]

Each section will have two sub-sections as follows:

a. Audio-visual narratives: The audio and visual codes used will be examined. An attempt to understand their signification by a semiotic encoding in the narrative will be made based on the ideas set forth by Anne Dunn (Fulton et al, 2005) whose tele-visual approach is grounded in the works of Baym (2004) and Charles


b. Textual narratives: Identifying and examining linguistic choices and the functions performed by words, phrases and clauses used, can give, as Fulton (2005) says, a ‗big picture‘ view and reveal the ideological consequences of narrating news. A number of narrative strategies are employed in news discourse but Fulton‘s classification is particularly clear and useful for this research. The text will thus be analysed under these sub-sections:

i. Angle ii. Point of closure iii. Individualisation iv. Focalisation v. Chronology

Finally, linguistic choices will be looked into according to Fulton‘s framework based on the three Hallidayan meta-functions of field, tenor and mode (Halliday, 1978). 19


(1) Audio-visual narratives: TN 1 and CI 1 were both telecast on 29 June 2010 when the protests had just begun to spread to the entire Valley20. Both use strikingly similar aural and 18 I followed the advice of the authors of the book Narrative and Media (Fulton et al, 2005) and referred to writings of Innis (1985) on semiotics to familiarize myself with Peirce‘s ideas.

19 For the sake of convenience, the Times Now samples from now on will be referred to as TN 1, TN 2, TN 3 and TN 4 while the CNN-IBN samples will be referred to as CI 1 CI 2 CI 3 CI 4A-4B. Other abbreviations include:

(i) CU – close-up
(ii) LS – Long shot
(iii) PTC – Piece to Camera
(iv) VO- Voice-Over
(v) PC – Press Conference
(vi) CM – Chief Minister
(vii) POV – Point-of-view (of the camera)

visual codes. Blatant is the construction of the protests as high drama with stress on the CM (implying the government and thus the nation) as being unfairly troubled by ‗ anti-national’ forces and a supercilious collective relief at him ‗ coming to his senses ‘ by blaming the ‗ right ‘21 people for the violence.

This is implied right from the opening sequences. CI has an in-your-face opening with a sequence of jerky shots of street violence accompanied by extra-diegetic cinematic music. Diegetic sounds of gun shots and shouts are clearly heard while the VO narrates in solemn staccato. In TN 1, the pulse-quickening signature music is playing, signifying urgency and the screen shows a newsreader whose manner is conversational though professional. She addresses the viewers dialogically but not as equals. Her tone signifies knowledge and a smug triumph at having been proved right. More about the words she uses, in the textual analysis.

Both news clips employ a highly evolved narrative structure of a news package. In fact all the samples do. A plethora of headlines assault the viewer, the colours and animated graphics indicating a sense of events occurring in rapid succession. The footage of violence maybe iconic and indexical but their use in a rapid montage renders them symbolic. It also makes time and space meaningless and ideology reductive; they are events occurred over a period of a few days or even weeks but on screen, they are simply images that reflect an ‗us-versusthem‘ conflict.

The connotation is especially clear because it is combined with the VO narrating in a tone implying impending threat. Add to this the rising tempo of music that is often heard in Bollywood movies when the hero is fighting villains on screen and the fictional effect is complete. The camera POV is from firmly behind the security forces and these shots are interspersed with slow-motion close-ups of a worried-looking CM in the PC (in a split screen on TN1) and his sound bites about ‗ vested interests’, ‗ anti-national elements’ and ‗ clash of ideologies’. Crucially, the sound bites here are abruptly edited and convey exactly the sense of taking bits of ‗the actual form from the whole and reassemble [ing] them within the narrative‘ (Baym, 2004: p290).

20 It was the day when the J & K chief minister, who had just 24 hours before, blamed the Indian security forces for the deaths of young protesters and called them according to CI 1 ―a force gone out of control‖, held a PC and in a complete turnaround, blamed ‗anti-national elements‘ instead for fomenting the violence. He says in the PC that the youth of Kashmir were being incited by ‗vested interests‘. He further warns that the curfew will be imposed strictly.

21 Please note that all words and phrases in bold are actual quotations from the transcripts.

Just to illustrate:

Screenshot from TN 1 Screenshot from CI 1

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(Notice the striking similarity of shots, headlines and graphics in the two. They might well have been from the same channel, so similar are their treatment.)

Throughout the clips, the viewers only see the protesters from afar, as a ‗demonic‘ threat even, except for once on CI I where women are shown speaking animatedly to a cop and a funeral procession in TN 1 (in both cases with no explanation). The camera is clearly filming the ‗adversary‘. TN 1 concludes with a dramatic four-way split screen showing more shots of violence. CI 1 is no less sensational. Here, the camera slow-zooms on a still picture of a cop lying on the ground apparently being beaten by protesters while the VO is confident that it is this picture that ‗changed‘ the CM‘s mind. The channel‘s only worry seems to be how the violence may affect the conduct of the Amarnath Yatra[18].

(2) Textual narratives: TN 1 and CI 1 have remarkably similar scripts as well . In TN 1, the newsreader‘s ‗intro‘ employs an engaged, interpersonal narration. CI 1 has a more dialogical approach but the overall implicit cue to the audience remains the same – respond emotively.

Angle: TN 1 opens with the anchor saying ‗ valley on the edge ‘ alerting us to an unfolding story that has elements of danger and drama. So does CI 1 with ‗ circle of violence continues’.

These intros make the ‗plot‘ clear; (a) the CM is ‗ putting the blame where it rightfully belongs’ (TN 1) and (b) blame belongs to ‗ the anti-national elements who are inciting the youth’ (TN1). CI 1 keeps it simpler with the headline ‗ Omar blames anti-nationals’. In sum, both are claims for a ‗truth‘ that brooks no challenge. Notice also the foregrounding of the CM in the plot with the use of more headlines: ‗ Is Omar losing control? ‘ and ‗ Omar’s public apology’ among others . Clearly, the angle is that of a perceived threat to the nation, which a repentant CM is trying to resolve. The implication is that the ‗solution‘ lies with an official tackling of the ‗ anti-national forces’.

Point of closure: Though the intros in both cases are summaries, the clips end with lines where the actual closure is reached, making the discourse almost fictional, complete with a neat ending. TN 1 ends with ‘As separatists continue to stoke the violence, the valley once again, on the boil.’ CI 1 meanwhile is dialogical with the reporter concerned about the CM‘s ability to ‘contain the raging fire’.

Individualisation: There is a clear strategy of individualising. It is the CM who is ‗ pushed to the wall’; it is him who is ‗ clearly under pressure ‘; he is ‗ breaking his silence ‘ and so holding a PC (all in TN 1). In CI 1, it is he who was ‗ pointing fingers’ at the security forces earlier but now is taking a ‗ more balanced view’. He is constructed as the main character in this story; the grammatical agencies used clearly marking him out as the one who has the power to determine the social context. Individualisation also works at a deeper level by the use of stereotypical references to the protesters as ‗ vested interests’, ‗ angry mobs’ and ‘separatists’. This has the effect of negating all the historical and political contexts of the dispute and positions the story as a problem caused by some individuals that has to be ‗solved‘ by another individual. This positioning is astonishingly constant throughout all the samples examined especially in TN 4 and CI 4A-B.

Focalisation: The narratives employ both third-person narrator and first-person (the CM and opposition leaders). The CM‘s character as a troubled man ‗admitting‘ to the hand of ‗ antinational ‘ forces is constructed through selective use of direct speech. Apparently, the external voice is only relaying ‗facts‘ implying that its position is that of a neutral observer but one look at the choice of quotes (from only members of the political elite) already positions this ‗neutrality‘ within the ambit of the dominant ideology of nationhood while a phrase such as ‗ the fires continue to be stoked ‘ (TN 1) cements this position.

Chronology: The various images of violence in the montage are always juxtaposed with the CM‘s PC in both clips, conveying a sense of everything happening ‗now‘. This is not the case however as the protests occurred over a few days but there is no explanation of this fact. It does not give the audience any sense of why one event may be linked to another or the possible causes underneath. This kind of non-linear chronology only further creates a sense of a story; but one that hasn‘t found a resolution yet.

Lexical choices: The largest collocational set with phrases such as ‗ angry mobs’vested interests’anti-national elements’incite ‘ ‗ on the boil’flames of the street rage’ suggest, as discussed in the visual narrative, a sense of the ‗demonic‘. This field is further defined by the categories assigned to people featured in the clips. The elite groups – political actors in this case – are overrepresented while the protesters are only seen as rioters. It is a powerful way of naturalising the hegemonic ideology strains. A striking effect here is that of passive nominalisation when it comes to the State action; such as ‗movement is not being allowed ‘ ‗ restrictions are tight’, which remove agency and responsibility while more active nominalisation is used for protesters like ‗ separatists continue to stoke violence’angry protesters have blocked highway’. The use of adjectives and metaphors such as ‗ violent mobs’valley on the boil’,stoking violence’ creates a rhetoric of urgency, drama and danger. This style of evaluative narrative both implicitly and explicitly coded in lexical terms has the effect of coercing the audience to a particular ideological positioning.


(1) Audio-visual narratives: TN 2 and CI 2 were telecast on 30 June and 9 July 2010. Both describe the protests as a Pakistan conspiracy and a mere ‗disruption‘ orchestrated through ‗hard-line‘ groups and Pak-funded terror outfits. Notice that this was exactly, indeed verbatim, the official government stance.[19]

TN 2 looks much like TN 1 – merely the next episode in a television drama. The newsreader begins by talking of pictures from the Valley which ‗ prove ‘ that the protesters are ‗ paid mobs’. Her mode of address is as if she is speaking to and for the audience but in a confident, presumptuous tone. The screen shows a montage of violence shots, with a slowzoom on each one, accompanied by extra-diegetic rhythmic beats. As before, the POV is behind the security forces, this time, more obviously so. Sample this shot: The connotation couldn‘t be clearer.

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The pictures are interspersed with talking heads from government officials while the VO narrates that government sources believe the violence is being instigated by ‗ anti-national’ forces. The second part focuses on one incident where protesters beat up a policeman. The indexical image of the policeman getting beaten up is shown in long shot, full zoom and repeated in split screens while talking heads of pro-State actors are being played. Further, the ‗ systematic lynching’ as it is labelled, is highlighted with a graphic red circle. Combined with the VO narration, there is no doubt left about who the ‗heroes‘ and ‗villains‘ are.

CI 2 is no less one-sided. In fact it begins with the same shot seen above displayed in the screen behind the newsreader. This is followed by a similar montage of shots. Then appears a crudely animated equalizer while the audio of a phone conversation between two

hardliners ‘, obtained from ‗ government sources’, is played. The conversation is scratchy and inaudible but the transcript rolls on the screen. The second part has shots of a PC by

separatist ‘ leader Geelani[20] who is accused of inciting violence. There is no sound bite from him however. The third part has a reporter speaking to a senior police officer while the split screen shows jerky shots of violence in quick succession.

This juxtaposition of a close-up shot of an apparently responsible police officer being interviewed by a senior journalist with rowdy scenes of violence in a split screen not only personalizes the issue but also presents the conflict hegemonically – a visualisation of ‗sensible‘ elites who are on ‗our‘ side versus ‗senseless‘ rioters disrupting peace. This asymmetric representation becomes more obvious in the text.

But sticking to the aural and visual for the present, notice that though there is a lot of stress on action in both clips, it does not mean they favour the people who are acting – in this case the Valley protesters. The montage of images is only of violent protesters; and taken together these images effectively symbolise them as a dangerous mass of masked, stonethrowing men. There are no close-up shots there, no attempt to speak to the family of the dead or injured and no shots of their grieving. Meanwhile, the purported ‗victims‘ of this violence – the pro-State actors – are given a forum to state their case and justify their violence.

(2) Textual narratives: Both TN 2 and CI 2 are action-oriented but it is also their discourse, again similar in several ways, that reveals the ideological consequences.

(i) Angle: TN 2‘s intro, like TN 1, is conversational but forceful. The newsreader says ‗ one look ‘ at the pictures and it is clear (to everybody is the implication) that those protesting are not mourners (grieving the death of teenagers killed by security forces) but ‗ anti-national elements ‘ who do not want to ‗ give peace even half a chance’. In CI 2, there is the show of ‗evidence‘ upfront with the newsreader promising to relay transcripts of conversations that will reveal the ‗ hands behind valley violence’ (CI 2‘s headline). The angle thus is of a growing threat, indicating not only a possible narrative of sensational panic but also implicitly hinting that there is something more sinister here than mere ‗street violence‘.

(ii) Point of closure: How much of TN 2 is constructed like a fictional narrative is clear if one connects the above-mentioned implication of something sinister to the closure that ‘winds of trouble are being fanned from across the border’. The implication is that this was the ‗knowledge‘ that was being hinted at earlier. CI 2 is structured more like an ‗inverted pyramid‘ and concludes with an interview of a police officer (a prominent character in the news ‗plot‘) who says the killings are ‗ unfortunate ‘ but the forces were just ‗ doing their job’. Thus, the structure in both clips foreshadows the sensational narrative plot. Combined with the informal register of the VO, the effect is of a drama whose next episode is just round the corner.

(iii) Individualisation: It is more subtle than in TN 1 but in TN 2, individualisation is used for protesters. The repeated references to ‗ paid mobs’crowd ‘ out to lynch and ‗ rioters ‘ directly and indirectly position them as the ‗others‘ threatening national security. This discourse marks them out as agents of violence out to ‗ attack and kill’ egged on by ‗ some force’. In CI 2, it is more blatant; the ‗ separatists ‘ represented by Geelani versus the State represented by the CRPF officer. References to Geelani is collocated with phrases like ‗ instigating violence’separatist ‘ leader and ‗ stone-pelting’; the CRPF officer is positioned as stoic and apologetic – implying a personification of the State itself, which is only enduring to protect itself from the ‗ violent mobs’.

(iv) Focalisation: There is a strong internal focalisation in both with the VO in TN 2 seemingly having superior knowledge (‗ this is one ground reality’, mourners having ‗ the unanimous backing’ of [Valley] politicians) and is directing our understanding through such evaluative statements. In CI 2 this is done through the use of a senior editor shown interviewing the CRPF officer. It is a powerful way of positioning the audience as a collective ‗us‘ who share the same opinion and understand the same ‗reality‘ as the ‗knowledgeable‘ journalists. The choice of quotes, all from political elites, is only a further reminder that this ‗reality‘ is one that the State believes in and it is the only reality.

(v) Chronology: Again, the chronology of events is non-linear. There is no clear indication of when the pictures were taken in TN 2 nor is there any mention of the timing of the phone transcripts or explanation for Geelani‘s PC in CI 2. The field is left open for the audience to assume any connection (there is no attempt at explaining reasons, if any, behind a particular policeman being the target of the protesters, for instance) and really, no causative event is particularly defined. One only gets a sense of a haze of violence enveloping the region.

(vi) Lexical choices: The linguistic choices in TN 2 are an indication of the kind of discourse in all the channels‘ samples. Take the rhetorical headline ‗ Do they look like mourners? ‘ or this one ‗ Pictures show systematic lynching’ describing protesters. Compare them with the ones describing the actions of the State: ‗ Hapless security force’ that‘s showing ‗ remarkable restraint’a policeman fighting a crowd’. The implication is not just violence against the nation-state but also a violence against which State action is justified.

The same is true of CI 2 with phrases such as ‗ Hizbul adding to recent unrest’miscreants are paid ‘ ‗ instigating violence’. This field is further defined by the categories assigned to these participants. Protesters are ‗ paid mobs ‘; they have come to ‗ attack and kill’ruthlessly ‘ while the security forces are only ‗ trying to deal’ with them; they are also ‗ hapless ‘ but showing restraint. CI 2 stresses the State‘s ‗moral uprightness‘ with phrases such as ‗ only doing our job’ and ‗ maintaining law and order ‘. Thus protesters are defined entirely by their violence while the State violence is normalised and even justified. The only group represented in the sound bites is pro-State. The nationalistic consensus is strengthened with the use of explicit metaphors and adjectives. Sample this: ‗ hostile mobs’ versus ‗ hapless security force’winds of trouble’ and ‗ vortex sucking everybody’ (TN 2), stoking violence, and stone-pelting suspect (CI 2).


(1) Audio-visual narratives: TN 3 and CI 3 were telecast on 11 and 12 September 2010 during Eid. Protests became intense during a march led by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq.[21]

Again, both are news packages, TN 3 more than CI 3 as the newsreader introduces it as a ‗ special report’. What follows is heart-stopping drum beats while the screen shows a blownup headline ‗ Separatists fuel violence ‘ leaving no doubt as to where the story is heading. The iconic and powerful images that follow only bolster the narration. They ostensibly depict what‘s ‗really happening‘ but the camera relentlessly grinds away as it records from behind the policeman, as always, one harsh scene after another, with several top-view and wide-angle shots of the marching protesters.

For example:

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The extra-diegetic drum beats are constant and rhythmic while diegetic sounds of street violence are heard. The narration becomes dialogical with the spot reporter displaying evidence of mob violence asking the camera to zoom in here, and pan out there. There is a senior policeman‘s talking head saying the forces were only doing their job while a split screen shows burning buildings. This clip too ends with a four-way split screen repeating the earlier violence shots.

CI 3 starts with astonishingly similar drum beats and a montage of nearly same scenes of violence (several of which are long shot zoom-ins and close-ups of burning tyres and buildings). It is then followed by diegetic sounds of protesters crying for azaadi. The VO narration is unambiguous and delivered gravely in staccato. ‗ People versus State’ is how it starts. But that‘s where the visual similarities end. From this point onwards, CI 3 changes tack and portrays the event as a power game between J & K CM and the Mirwaiz. This is evident from the text but there are several visual codes to detect this as well. A talking head of the CM where he is accusing the Mirwaiz of inciting the violence is juxtaposed with a talking head of the Mirwaiz denying it. Then the screen shows a series of political elites‘ opinion on the withdrawal/modification of the AFSPA in Kashmir[22], accompanied by their mug shots and extra-diegetic music.

To illustrate:

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What is obvious in both is the storytelling technique used where montages of random images are woven into a narrative as evidence for the text. Only the basic facts are relayed graphically with audio and video effects. There is no attempt at deviance; the tone is consistently hawkish and affronted. The intention is clearly to squeeze out an emotional reaction from the audience, among other things. This deviates attention from the underlying causes that remain unexplored. This much-used television strategy to hold audience interest, successful or not, inevitably succeeds in sustaining the dominant ideology.

(2) Textual narratives: Both TN 3 and CI 3 are more visual than the rest. Nevertheless, their texts reveal a lot too.

(i) Angle: The plot of national outrage is clear from the very first line in both the clips, so much so that it is hard to differentiate one channel from the other. TN 3 stresses that the

separatists ‘ did not even spare ‗ Eid ‘ a joyous celebration, and deliberately chose that day to ‗ block the occasion.‘ CI 3 takes no trouble to complicate matters. It simply starts with ‗ People versus State once again.‘ The narrator lists out a series of violent acts the ‗ mob ‘ committed and bemoans that because of ‗them‘ it has been a ‗ violent Eid’ after 20 years.

These intros alert us to a sensational narrative of a violence that is spinning out of control.

In TN 3 it is implied that the people have turned into ‗ mobs ‘ only thanks to the ‘separatists’. The blame lies squarely with them and the script makes an effort to distinguish them from the otherwise ‗good‘ people of Kashmir. It also invokes a sense of collective concern against ‗evil-doing‘ by these ‗others‘. CI 3, as mentioned in the visual analysis, personalises the whole issue. Sample this: ‘Omar Abdullah blames this man (Mirwaiz is shown on screen) for turning festivity into fire.’

(ii) Point of closure: If TN 2 is constructed like a fictional narrative, TN 3 even more so. The closure brings the narrative hook in the lead to a climax. The implication is that the claims made in the intro have been proved with visual evidence and now the audience have to believe the channel when they say that ‗ this is what people of the Valley had to go through’ – suffer violence by ‗ separatists’who don’t want to give peace a chance’. It renders the news clip more a commentary than hard news. CI 3 takes a more conventional approach and ends with speculations about how ‗ equations could change’ with the violence.

(iii) Individualisation: CI 3 is, one can argue, entirely constructed as a battle between two adversaries, the CM and the Mirwaiz and the implicit linguistic codes clearly stand by the CM.

It begins by saying that the CM blames ‗ this man’ for inciting violence. See the next line: ‗ Mirwaiz led a protest march’ (implying protest march is inciting violence). The sense of a supporting cast of fictional characters strengthens with its screen roll of mug shots of political actors and their viewpoints.

TN 3 does the same with a different tactic. It attributes actions to the protesters (rampaging, took law into their own hands, mob…did not want to keep it peaceful) and by doing so, constructs them as ‗characters‘ determined to play their violent role in this ongoing drama. No exploration of reasons occurs, no context is laid out. A further characterisation occurs in the figure of the Mirwaiz who represents all the ‗ separatists ‘ who are ‗ inciting ‘ the ‗innocent‘ people. He is pitted against the State that is projected as a helpless witness to the ‗ attacking ‘ mobs. Sample these headlines: ‗ Separatists don’t even spare Eid’Omar versus Separatists’ and ‗ Separatists fuel violence’.

(iv) Focalisation: It is revealing that the events are unwaveringly described from a pro-State perspective. In TN 3, the first person and third-person narrators and the individual viewpoints (which here happens to be only of the police officer) create an apparently ‗sensible‘ position of use of State authority against ‗fringe‘ elements.

CI 3 performs the same function through the internal narrator and the use of the CM‘s direct speech. The Mirwaiz‟ s denial is swiftly overridden by sensational shots and the VO narration. This selectivity of information and strategy for creating an illusion of ‗objectivity‘ works powerfully to persuade the audience to side with the journalist and in turn the State.

(v) Chronology: Unlike the earlier samples, there is a linear chronology in these clips but that is mostly because they cover a single-day event. But phrases like: ‗ that’s how it began on Eid ‘ (TN 3), ‗ barracks and vehicles torched ‘ (CI 3) from present perfect ‗ have been attacked’ to past tense ‗ this is what the people had to go through’ ‘clock tower hasn’t been spared (CI 3), collectively create a sense of continuous events and minimise causation.

The effect of this non-temporal order is to support the ‗truth‘ of the story, which is ostensibly not giving out any ‗overt‘ message. Thus one neither gets a sense of the long history of the conflict nor the possible ideological reasons behind the violence. One only sees a sequence of violent events, literally suspended in mid-air.

Lexical choices: The repeated use of words like ‗ burn ‘ ‗ fuel ‘ ‗ incite ‘ along with ‗ mobs ‘ ‗ ransack ‘ ‗ separatists’ in TN 3 and ‗ torched ‘ ‗ not spared ‘ ‗ festivity into fire ‘ (CI 3) don‘t leave much to imagination. Observe the use of several declarative statements, indicating high modality: ‗ separatists fuel violence’ (headline in TN 3) to ‗ there was no sign of peaceful demonstrations’ and ‗ mob came in from Lal Chowk’ (TN 3) and ‗ People versus State’, ‘abused the sanctity’ ‘Srinagar burnt’ (CI 3). These construct the narrator‘s superior tenor and TN 3‘s closure also suggests triumphalism. The stress on action verbs and visual codes further sensationalise and de-contextualise. The metaphors and adjectives are many (unprecedented violence, valley burns (TN 3) , violent Eid, turbulent Valley (CI 3)) and these are used powerfully to indicate the risk faced by the nation from these ‗ rampaging ‘ ‗ separatists ‘. It takes a strong audience to face this onslaught of ideological pressure and not succumb.


(1) Audio-visual narratives: TN 4 and CI 4A-B were telecast on 27 and 26-27 October when the protests were winding down.[23] Both focus on the furore that erupted after some activists and writers including author Arundhati Roy attended seminars that discussed azaadi. 28

TN 4 is narrated in an unmistakably outraged tone while the screen displays an animated headline ‗ India’s democracy targeted’ accompanied by drum rolls. A split screen shows Bihar election violence allegedly caused by Maoists29 while the left screen shows Roy in a slow-motion close-up talking with another activist. The visual connotation is clear – all voices of dissent against the dominant discourse are to be lumped together and labelled ‗ antinational’splittists ‘. The narrator declares that these are people who have come together ‗ on a single platform’ to ‗ take their anti-India agenda forward’. Then comes the visual evidence. The camera slow zooms on still pictures of Roy and another author-activist. The screen turns black and white before the camera begins to furtively follow Roy as she steps out of a building while the reporter is trying to get a sound bite. She refuses and the focus is now on the reporter who stands in an empty hall narrating how ‘your channel’ was barred from covering the event. The extra-diegetic cinematic music continues, leaving us with no doubts as to whose side the channel isn‘t on.

The second part replays selective portions of a debate telecast earlier where participants are accusing Roy and others of being ‗ anti-India’ and demanding legal action. The narrator relates that this is ‗revenge‘ taken on the channel for this ‘expose’ of the ‗ separatistsantinational agenda’. The music tempo keeps increasing in intensity while the split screen shows shots of the seminar. It concludes with a viewer poll on whether the government is right in considering action against the ‗ splittists ‘.

the same issue was held in Srinagar. A political storm broke out after large sections of the national media reported the event and published quotes from Roy's speeches. There were widespread demands that the participants be booked for sedition and that the speeches made by Roy and Geelani in particular were ‗antinational‘, prompting the Union Government to launch a probe. Amidst the din and outrage and calls for sedition, there was no sense that there might have been an alternative story that also needs to be told and a few voices who protested this kind of coverage were lost in the cacophony. See for instance, eminent journalist Pradeep Magazine‘s piece in the Hindustan Times, ‗Half stories, half-truths' which roundly criticises the one-sided reportage of the issue. ( Also, the previously mentioned fact-finding report comments that the media outrage completely ignored the fact that the seminar was a public discussion in a democracy conducted ―in a tone of rational civility‖ (The Other Media Report, 2011: p67). Please refer to additional bibliography for a list of articles from prominent Indian newspapers that covered this issue to get a feel of how it was covered.

29 Maoists are militant communist groups who operate under various names mainly in some parts of Eastern and Southern India. They have been declared as a terrorist organisation under the State law and their growing presence recently prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call them the most serious internal threat to India's national security (Economist, 2006, IE, 2010).

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While CI 4A-B are definitely more sober, they do narrate it as a climatic episode, complete with montages, graphics and animation, selective sound bites from talking heads who uniformly blame Roy and demand legal action and extra-diegetic music. While CI-4A talks of imminent legal action, CI 4-B telecast the very next day speculates on why the government might not be keen to slap charges. Shots from the Delhi seminar are interspersed with spot narration, graphic screens displaying the sedition law wordings and Roy‘s statements. What is strikingly similar is the use, here as well, of selective clips (where speakers are dead certain that Roy is ‗ anti-national’) from a debate telecast earlier.

What is clear, in TN 4 more than CI 4A-B, is the blatant exploitation of the nationalist sentiment by personalizing and positioning dissent as the ‗evil‘ other while the channel (and so its viewers) as the outraged sufferers, sitting prim on a moral high ground. A visual demonstration of the worst kind of tele-jingoism. Whether it boosts TRPs or not, it surely prevents critical debate on Kashmir or any other issue, for that matter.

(2) Textual narratives: The ideology projected in the news clips is pretty clear in the visual analysis. The text only makes it more explicit.

(i) Angle: If there are any doubts left as to whether TN‘s narrative is hegemonic or not, they are cleared with TN 4. The narrator‘s tone borders on the hysterical while the headline screams ‗ India’s democracy targeted’. The angle thus established, the pitch is queered with the first sentence that a group ‗ met to take their anti-India agenda forward’. This group is made up of ‗ pro-Maoist terrorist sympathisers’ who are ‘condoning terrorists’ and ‗ daring ‘ India by holding ‗ anti-national meetings’. Further, their ‗ agenda’ was ‗ nefarious ‘ and that was the reason the channel was barred from covering the event. This prepares us for a narrative of accusation and moral outrage. Though CI 4A begins with drum rolls and shots of Geelani and Roy, the tone is more subdued and the narrator speculates about seditious charges. The angle here is about the legality of the government decision more than outrage at their utterances.

(ii) Point of closure: TN 4‘s closure is almost at the end when the anchor declares that the demand for legal action is ‗ justified ‘ as these are people who haven‘t ‗ hesitated to support the Maoists or the terrorists in the Valley’. Words as strong as a judge bringing his gavel down. And with that judgement delivered, the channel demands viewer support through a poll asking the leading question ‘Is the government well within its right to crack down on splittists?’

CI 4-A‘s closure actually occurs in the lead of CI 4-B where there‘s more speculation – that the government will refrain from action to avoid internationalising the issue.[24] Notice the full circle the narrative takes, by beginning with the politicisation of the issue and ending with it too.

(iii) Individualisation: TN 4 uses every tool to stereotype the dissenters as the ‗evil others‘ who are bent upon turning their backs on the nation. Notice the use of words like ‗ splittists ‘ (a progression from ‗ separatists ‘) to lumping Maoist attacks with Kashmir violence and finally by calling them supporters of ‗ terrorists ‘ in the Valley. Roy is identified on screen neither as an author nor as activist but only as a ‗ Maoist sympathiser’. Further, an explanation line runs below her name which says [she] has justified use of violence by Maoist terrorists’ CI 4-B does the same with selective quotes from the earlier debate where a senior lawyer is dismissing Roy as a ‗ fringe element’ and smugly declaring that the ‗ nation ‘ is used to her ‗ passionate outpourings’. This not only personalises all dissent against the State but also leaves no room for debate and reduces the entire conflict to a fight between few individuals.

(iv) Focalisation: The perspective in TN 4 is not only of anti-national elements going ‗ scotfree’ but also of ‗ your channel’ being victimised for its so-called ‗ expose’ against the splittists ‘ ‗ nefarious agenda’. This is conveyed through the affronted internal narrator as well as selective clips of direct speech from Pro-State actors. In CI-4A, Roy is apparently ‗ testing the establishment’s patience’ but the government is only ‗ treading with caution’. In TN 4, Roy‘s refusal to comment is displayed as further proof of her ‗ anti-national’ intentions while the selective use of direct speech through the debate clips in CI-4B creates the effect of impersonal objectivity, apparently distancing the channel from the views it is projecting.

(v) Chronology: Like before, the chronology is completely obscured. In both cases, the external narrator talks of the Srinagar seminar while clips of the Delhi seminar are played; one might assume a connection but it is not clear which event preceded the other or if one actually led to the other. Overall, it is a set of actions put together and the only orientation you get is with statements such as ‘we reached here this morning’ and ‘In Srinagar today, a group of people met’ It is clear enough that the structure of TN 4, more than CI 4A-B, with its stress on sensationalism dictates that it impose an order ―completely at odds with linear narrative‖ (Bell & Garrett 1998: 96 cited in Fulton, et al, 2005: p242).

Lexical choices: The field is defined instantly in TN 4 with the headline ‘India’s democracy targeted’. CI 4-B has a similar effect with its headline ‘Sedition or Democracy?’ What is particularly noticeable in TN 4 is the high intensity of usage of words like ‗ target ‘ ‗ splittists’outrage ‘ ‗ dare ‘ ‗ provoke ‘ whenever dissent is described. Their level of categorisation as forces against the State has deepened noticeably. Note that the labels for the protesters has changed from ‗ mobsters ‘ and ‗ separatists’ earlier to ‗ splittists ‘ ‗ anti-national’Maoist sympathisers ‘ to ‗ terrorist’ supporters. The rage of the channel is palpable; the nationalistic ideology constantly reinforced. Sample this sentence: ‗ your channel exposing the seditious agenda of these splittists’. The implication is that the channel‘s stand is inevitable and just. CI 4A-B, in a marked departure, is sitting on the fence and uses a lot of low-modality adjuncts such as ‗ perhaps ‘ ‗ may prosecute’ ‘seem to agree’ etc. But in TN 4, there is no such dithering. The range of adjectives and metaphors employed to strengthen its argument is astonishing. ‗ Dangerous ‘ agenda, ‗ anti-India voices ‘, ‗ spewing anti-India venom’testing democracy’s limits’ are only some examples.


This study has analysed how the Kashmir protests of 2010 were narrated in commercial television news in India. The dissertation has compared and contrasted the coverage in a total of eight samples (4+4) from two leading commercial TV channels, Times Now and CNN IBN. The research began with certain initial hypotheses[25] and these were expected to be reasonably fulfilled but what was surprising was the extent to which they were confirmed. The coverage by the two channels was expected to be similar but again, the extent of the similarity was unexpected. But the jingoistic strains in Times Now were, in places, more visible than in CNNIBN.

In particular, the analysis made two aspects clear:

(a) The Kashmir protests were consistently constructed in nationalist terms, by both the channels, and anybody not subscribing to this discourse was termed ‗anti-national‘.

(b) The narration was dramatic and sensational, with emphasis on personalities, storytelling and spectacle.

The coverage of the protests by both the channels was clearly hegemonic and the entire issue was narrated, unwaveringly, from the State perspective. The texts and the visuals consistently projected the government‘s stance on Kashmir. For instance, the examination of the news discourse revealed that the channels never used impartial or non-evaluative terms to describe the organisers of the protest but consistently employed terms such as ‗mobsters‘ and ‗splittists‘ creating trouble; the protests themselves were depicted as violence ‗incited by separatists‘ and or as part of a ‗Pakistan conspiracy‘. This was essentially the Union Government‘s stance as well. This is in sharp contrast to the local Kashmiri media and to the international media, which often referred to the protests as Kashmir‘s struggle for azaadi or even, sometimes, as its intifada.

The extent of the jingoism in the media coverage becomes apparent when one considers the high level of justification presented for the violence of the security forces, while no attempt was made to provide any ideological explanation for the violence of the protesters.

This mode of reporting the protests meant that nothing critical was ever said about the security forces. The channels dutifully quoted the security officers‘ views, and those of other political actors, that they were ‗only doing their job‘ and that killings were ‗unfortunate‘ but the coverage shied away from asking critical questions about the possible causes of the protest or for exploring the reasons for its germination.

In the eight samples analysed in this dissertation, there is not a single instance of an attempt to speak to the protesters on the streets, or to the families of the dead and the injured. Times Now in particular appeared to be conducting a campaign of sorts against those who did not subscribe to its hegemonic discourse, going to the extent of labelling them ‗supporters‘ of terrorists in the Valley. The protests were clearly presented as an ‗us-versus-them‘ issue in which the ‗us‘ encompassed the channel itself, its audience and the nation and ‗they‘ were simply faceless perpetrators of mindless violence.

Much of the news originated from press conferences by State actors, unnamed ‗government‘ sources and other political actors, promoting the nationalistic perspective. It could be argued, however, that this hegemonic reading is not because the channels were spokespersons for the government but due to their commercial determinants. This brings us to the second aspect of the findings. The protests were ‗spun‘ into a narrative, fit for the ‗consumption‘ of its audience, and ‗stimulating the visual and auditory-sense organs, rather than cognitive cells of the consumers‘ (Burr et al, 1993 cited in Mitra, 2009: p239). They were emotion-packed stories full of dramatic scenes, ‗scoops‘ and twists, as well as a general outcry against the ‗anti-national‘ elements, accompanied by crashing cymbals. As Fulton (2005) argues, in order to attract a mass viewership, news employs language which is understood ‗by the majority of the population as well as politically uncontroversial and which promotes hegemonic consensus through a shared recognition of ―the way things are‖‘ (p225).


It may well be true that hegemonic ideologies in news and its narration as ‗entertainment‘ are inter-related and are mostly due to commercial imperatives. But it is more important to be aware of the possible consequences of such a narration. When news is presented as a story with ‗characters‘ and ‗plots‘, the danger is that they can be perceived as just that – another episode of a drama in a distant land, just another soap opera. Or worse, because of the stress on certain individuals (like Omar Abdullah or Arundhati Roy in this context), a conflict as intractable and complex as Kashmir can be reduced to a power game between different ‗characters‘. Crucially, by employing such ‗entertainment‘ formats, the political and historical complexities that cause conflicts are often reduced to simple equations of good versus evil.

In the context of a conflict like Kashmir, this is particularly worrying. What little understanding there is, amongst the public, of the complex issues surrounding Kashmir, is an understanding that has been largely mediated by television. This is especially true in a country which still has high levels of illiteracy. So when television‘s reportage is not impartial, and does not attempt to report equally on all sides of a conflict, it fails to fulfil its public service obligations. This means not only that governments can get away with short-sighted policies with regard to Kashmir, as Teresa Joseph (2000) has argued, but also that mainstream Indians will be further alienated from Kashmiris. Further, such formulaic news, packaged with ‗patriotic‘ overtones, has a powerful persuasive effect on its audience, making them believe, as Mitra (2009) argues, that ‗what is visible is credible news‘ (p440).

Some critics do contend that by making news more ‗accessible‘ in this way, satellite television has contributed to an expansion of the public sphere and to a deepening of democratisation (Delli Carpini and Williams, 2001; Langer, 1998). But I agree with Thussu (2007) and Fulton (2005) that mere accessibility is not enough. When the media toes the official line and fails to provide a forum for critical debate, be it on azaadi or anything else, it may have expanded the public sphere but nevertheless diminished its quality.

When television anchors drown debate with shrill nationalism and reduce complex conflicts to dramatic soap operas, they are, perhaps unconsciously, promoting a parochial view of Indian public affairs. In the long run, this can only do more harm than good to the unity of a nation, especially a nation as multi-ethnic and multi-cultural as India whose survival as one single unit depends on it being ‗imagined‘ as one – an imagination that can only be nurtured by tolerance, acceptance of diversity and syncretism.


For a print journalist like me who has worked in a daily newspaper for nearly nine years, the opportunity to study television and its workings in a country where it is so ubiquitous was too exciting to not pursue, despite warnings that studying television is not easy and never has been. Television studies in India have been sporadic and sketchy, even more so when it comes to a sensitive issue like Kashmir. As predicted, there were many difficulties; not the least among them was finding previous studies that explored the coverage of Kashmir on television, let alone commercial television news. This was both a positive and a negative factor; it made the research more original but also more challenging. But in the long run, it proved to be more of an advantage than a hindrance.

Having had an insider’s view of the production processes of the media for so long, it was refreshing and educative to examine it as dispassionately as one can, as an outsider. It has helped me develop a keener, critical eye when reading any media text and understand more than ever that there are no absolute truths, and thus better prepare myself for another stint in journalism, if it comes my way. It has also strengthened my conviction about a need for fundamental changes in news culture. Unless journalism as a profession is willing to look inward and critically question its present practices, change is unlikely. There is a need, for instance, to re-orient and sensitise journalists, educate them even, especially when covering complex conflicts such as Kashmir. The normative belief of media bosses that catering to populism will bring in more eyeballs has to be challenged. Indeed, this takes us to the old argument about whether journalism should be about what people want to know or what they ought to know.

Finally, I hope that the study adds, albeit in a very small way, to the understanding of how Kashmir is covered in the news and fills this gaping hole in academic research to a tiny extent. Narrative analysis was employed for no other reason but the fact that the study demanded its use. Undoubtedly, it makes the research as subjective as they come; I do believe there is no method of analysis that guarantees complete objectivity. Further research on news production and audience response though will go a long way in providing a more wholesome and complete picture.


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1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Stop the provocation, says Omar’
2. Telecast date: 29 June 2010
3. Duration: 2.57 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Female anchor in studio, dressed formally. Background screen showing a world map and the Times Now News at 11 legend superimposed on it. Signature music for headlines playing.

Female anchor: And now moving on from massacre in Chhattisgarh to a valley that is on the edge, two days after Omar Abdullah blamed the Forces for the death of young men in the Valley, today as the protests spread to the south of the Kashmir Valley, Abdullah put the blame where it rightfully belongs – (pause) on the anti-national elements who are instigating the young men on the streets of the valley.

Frame 2: Screen is now split into two. The left screen shows a close up of Omar Abdullah at the press conference and right has running shots from the violence in Kashmir – shots of violence on the streets – stone pelting, arson, shots of wounded being treated and taken to hospital. The frame is headlined „ Is Omar losing control? ‟ with a small square icon on the top-left corner of the screen declaring „ Valley on the edge’ . Below, there is another „kicker headline‟ stating „ Omar’s public apology’ Below this is his credentials – „ Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister, J & K ‟ The audio is of Omar Abdullah speaking.

Omar Abdullah: Not only personally, but also as the head of the Government, I would like to condole the deaths that have taken place in the recent days.

Frame 3: Now the screen shows a slow-motion close-up of Omar Abdullah looking worried at the press conference, with his hands covering his mouth. The icon „ Valley on the edge’ remains at the top-left corner. The headline has changed to „ Omar puts blame where it belongs’ . The „kicker headline‟ remains the same: „ Omar’s public apology’ but an extra line is added below for emphasis: ‘Omar takes on separatists, says youth being instigated’. Audio is snare and bass drums playing in a 3/6 notation beat. The female voice-over then takes over.

Female voice-over: Omar Abdullah. (pause) Clearly under pressure. (pause) Breaking his silence after the valley continues to burn for the sixth consecutive day. The violence (pause) shifting from Sopore and Baramullah to Anantnag even as three more were killed.

Frame 4: The scene shifts to shots of violence in Anantnag, a district in Kashmir. The headline on top now reads: „ Omar’s direct attack on separatists’ . Below, the kicker headline reads: ‘Is government in control? ‟ The second line says: ‘Omar asks forces to show restraint’ .

The audio is that of the female voice-over as well as distant sounds of violence and the siren of an ambulance.

Frame 5: The screen now shows a male reporter on the spot walking on the national highway in Srinagar and speaking breathlessly into the camera at the same time. Behind him, policemen and security forces can be spotted running. The icon „ Valley on the edge’ remains at the top-left corner. The headline now reads, „ Restrain, do not provoke’ in quotes. Below the kicker headline is back to „ Omar’s public apology’ . The second line reads: „ Omar: This is not simply a law and order situation’.

The audio is the male reporter speaking to the camera while shouts of policemen and protesters can be heard faintly in the background.

Male reporter at the spot: Restrictions in most parts of Srinagar are tight. Movement is not being allowed. It is government‘s way of curbing down the violence that gripped Srinagar yesterday… in fact stones being pelted in some areas as we speak. The angry protesters have blocked the national highway at this time, the police is on the charge, additional police reinforcements have come into the area and they are trying to open this national highway.

There were two to three hundred protesters there.

Frame 6: Screen now shows Omar at the press conference along with some people behind him who might be officials. The icon „ Valley on the edge’ remains. The headline reads: ‘Is Omar losing control?’ The kicker headline remains the same. The second line reads: ‘Omar

Abdullah apologises for deaths in Kashmir’.

Audio is a repeat of the bass and snare drums in 3/6 notation and then the female voice-over comes in.

Female voice-over: Pushed to the wall, Omar has called on the army for help. A group of ministers have also been formed with three of the State ministers on the board. But the fires continued to be stoked.

Frame 7: (At this point, the screen shows some shots of tyre-burning on the streets of Srinagar)

Frame 8: Now the screen is again split into two. One shows Omar Abdullah at the press conference and the other is a close-up shot of Mehbooba Mufti, opposition party leader, being interviewed. While one is speaking, the colour of the other screen becomes black and white and vice versa. The icon remains the same as does the kicker headline. Below the kicker, the line shows the credentials of the chief minister or the opposition leader as and when they speak. The headline alternates between: „ Omar’s direct attack on separatists’ and ‘Omar puts blame where it belongs’.

Audio is the two politicians speaking alternatively. Before the audio shifts to the other speaker there is a „whooshing‟ sound.

Omar Abdullah: This is not a simple law and order matter brought about by the absence or the poor quality of governance.

Mehbooba Mufti, Opposition Party (People’s Democratic Party) chief: State government… the failure of the state government on political and administrative fronts cannot be met out by sending in more forces... you know.. that would be very unfortunate.

Omar Abdullah: Various anti-national…various anti-national forces and vested interests have come together to create trouble.

Mehbooba Mufti, Opposition Party (People’s Democratic Party) chief: There is no justification for the way the present government is functioning… calling for more troops.

Frame 9: Screen now shows slow-motion close-ups of shots of violence on the streets – arson, tyre burning, police controlling etc. The icon remains the same while all the previously mentioned headlines and kickers are played consecutively while the female voice-over narrates.

Audio is that of the female voice-over with an orchestrated background music rising to a slow crescendo.

Female voice-over: 11 dead in the last three weeks. Violent mobs attacking the state police and the CRPF. And a Chief Minister desperately trying to stay in control.

Frame 10: Back to a shot of the chief minister in the press conference with the headlines and kickers playing consecutively.

Audio is the chief minister speaking and music at full crescendo.

Omar Abdullah: We have a duty to maintain law and order and where curfew has been imposed, curfew will be enforced.

Frame 11: The screen is split into four each showing different scenes of violence. The headline reads: „ Omar’s direct attack on separatists’ . The kicker is: „ Omar’s public apology’ . The line below the kicker reads: „ Omar: I appeal to civilians to remain calm’ The icon remains the same at the top-left corner.

Audio is that of the female voice-over along with sounds of protesters shouting and background orchestrated rising music.

Female voice-over As separatists continue to stoke the violence, the valley once again, on the boil. Bureau report, Times Now.

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1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Mourner or paid mobs?’
2. Telecast date: 30 June 2010
3. Duration: 2.00 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Female anchor in studio, dressed formally. Background screen showing a world map and the Times Now News at 11 legend superimposed on it. Signature music for headlines playing.

Female anchor: You know one look at the pictures that came from the Valley yesterday, it was very clear that the men who were out on the streets were not mourners but in fact antinational elements at work, making sure peace does not even have half a chance to prevail in the Valley.

Frame 2: The screen shows slow-motion close-up of scenes of violence – young boys pelting stones, police trying to control the mob, police vehicles on fire etc. On the top-left corner is the icon „ Valley on the edge’ . The headline on the screen reads: „ Mobs using kids as shields? ‟ The kicker headline below reads: „ Mourner or paid mobs? ‟ The line below it reads: „ Details emerge from violence in Valley’ .

Audio is orchestrated music that is rhythmically building up tempo. Then, Mehbooba Mufti, opposition leader, is interviewed. Music continues to play in the background and the screen shows Ms Mufti‟s speaking and then while she is speaking, the screen again shifts to slowmotion close-ups of scenes of violence that were already shown before. The headline now reads: „ Centre gives it back to politicians.’ The kicker reads: ‘Centre versus politicians.’

The line below it reads: ‘Pictures show mobs attacking security forces.’

Mehbooba Mufti: They are not holding any guns or grenades as was done in early 90s... I don‘t think this is the right attitude.

Frame 3: The screen is split into two. On the left side there is a replay of the same scenes of violence shown before. On the right screen, an unidentified man is being interviewed. The icon, the headline and the kicker remain the same. Only the line below the kicker has changed to: „ Security forces being beaten ruthlessly’ .

The audio continues to play the same orchestrated music as before in the background and the unidentified bearded man is also speaking.

Unidentified man: Unka lack of command bhi hein aur lack of correspondence bhi hein… jiske waje se log shikar horahey hein. (They have a lack of command as well as a lack of correspondence because of which people are becoming targets.)

Frame 4: The screen shows more shots of violence… of protesters hitting policemen, pelting stones, arson etc. The icon remains on the top-left corner. The headline now reads: „ Do they look like mourners? ‟ The kicker reads: ‘Mourners or paid mobs ?‟ The line below the kicker reads: „ Mobs set police vehicles on fire ‟ and after two seconds, changes to „Sources: J&K

CM Omar Abdullah seeks army help.‟

The audio continues to play the aforementioned music and then a female voice-over comes in. While she is speaking, sounds of violence can be heard in the background – protesters shouting slogans, gun shots etc.

Female voice-over: But this is one ground reality. A policeman fighting a crowd. Being lynched by a crowd that hardly seems to be made of mourners. Almost as if they came to attack and kill. Any part of the valley and the mourners are sprinkled among a mob of rioters who seem to have the unanimous backing of the politicians .

Frame 5: The screen shows a mob beating up a policeman. The policeman being beaten up is graphically circled. The icon and the kicker remain the same. The headline now reads:

Pictures show ‘systematic’ lynching .‟ The line below the kicker reads: „ Mob attacks lone policeman. ‟ The audio is that of the female voice-over narrating as well faints shouts and conversations of protesters in the background. As she continues to narrate, the screen changes to shots of protesters damaging a police vehicle. Again, the vehicle is graphically circled. The headline now reads: ‘24 hours later, politicians do re-think. ‟ The line below the kicker reads: ‘Mob attacks police van.’

Frame 6: The screen now shows a file shot of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and J & K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah walking together. It soon is replaced with file shots of Omar Abdullah‟s press conference held the previous day. The icon remains at the top-left corner. The headline reads: „ Mobs using kids as shields? ‟ The kicker reads: ‘Centre gives it back to politicians .‟ Below the kicker, Saifuddin Soz, whose credentials are not identified, is quoted as saying: „ I appeal to people to co-ordinate with J & K government to address their grievances’. Audio is that of the aforementioned music that is rising in tempo and the female voice-over narrating.

Female voice-over: A rebuttal from the Centre and the State quick to do a U-turn.

Frame 7: The screen is now split into two. On the left side, Taj Mohiuddin, Public Health Engineering Minister, J & K is being interviewed. On the right side, is a replay of the shots of protesters attacking the policeman and the police vehicle,, again with the policeman and the vehicle graphically encircled. The icon, headline and kicker remain the same. Below the kicker are the minister‟s credentials.

The audio is that of the minister speaking.

Taj Mohiuddin: The sequence of events look so organized (longish pause) that some force is behind it… which are instigating the people.

Frame 8: The screen again replays the shots of the protesters beating up the policeman and damaging the police vehicle, again with the policeman and the vehicle encircled in red. The icon and the kicker remain the same but all the aforementioned headlines and lines below the kickers are replayed in sequence.

The audio is that of the female voice-over. Distant shouts of protesters and violence can be heard in the background.

Female voice-over: The death toll from the violence keeps increasing. And a hapless security force is trying to deal with hostile mobs.

Frame 9: The screen is now split into two. On the left side, an unidentified policeman is being interviewed. On the right side, the same shots of protesters attacking the policeman and the police vehicle (encircled in red) are replayed. The icon remains. The headline reads:

Pictures show ‘systematic’ lynching.’ The kicker reads: „ Centre versus politicians .‟ The line below the kicker reads: „ Security forces being beaten ruthlessly’ The audio is that of the policeman speaking.

Policeman: The kind of violence that is taking place and the kind of restraint they are showing is really remarkable.

Frame 10: The screen now replays all the shots of violence shown before. The headlines, kickers and the lines below the kickers are also replayed in sequence. The icon remains at the top-left corner. The audio is of the female voice-over. Shouts of protesters and sounds of violence can be heard. The aforementioned music can also be heard very faintly.

Female voice-over: It is a vortex that is sucking everybody in despite the knowledge that winds of trouble are being fanned from across the border. Bureau report, Times Now.


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1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Separatists fuel violence in Valley’
2. Telecast date: 11 September 2010
3. Duration: 3.07 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Female anchor in studio, dressed formally. Background screen showing a world map and the Times Now News at 9 legend superimposed on it. Signature music for headlines playing.

Female anchor: Today as the world celebrated Eid, separatists in Kashmir chose the day to block the occasion with violence. Today once again, the valley burnt. As fuelled by separatists, mob took over parts of the Srinagar city even going to the extent of burning down government buildings. Here is a special report from Srinagar.

Frame 2: The screen shows scenes of violence one after the other, buildings burning, people pelting stones, people congregated in large numbers, with a large headline ‘Separatists feul (sic) violence’ in double barrel on the bottom left of the screen. Audio is orchestrated music rapidly rising in tempo.

Frame 3: The screen shows shots of violence on the streets of Srinagar in sequence. The headline reads: „ Separatist-led mobs ransack.’ The kicker below reads: ‘Separatists fuel violence’ and soon changes to ‘Omar versus Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads: „ Mobs ransack police post’ . A small icon at the bottom-left corner marks the location and time: ‘Hazratbal: 11.00 am’ Audio is for the first 10 seconds is only of the sounds of violence, after which a male voiceover comes in.

Male voice-over: That's how it began on Eid. Even before the prayers, mobsters out on the streets trying to ransack a police post.

Frame 4: The screen shows several shots of violence, people addressing a large crowd, fires, etc rapidly one after the other. The headline now reads: „ Separatists don’t even spare Eid’. The icon showing location and place remains the same and the kicker reads: „ Omar versus

Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads: „ Mobs try to set police post on fire.’ The audio is sounds of protesters shouting slogans and sounds of violence. After a few seconds, the male voice-over continues.

Male voice-over: Less than an hour later, the Mirwaiz called for a march to Lal Chowk using the large congregated crowd to his advantage. (Long pause) But clearly, the mobs led by the Separatists did not want to keep it peaceful, attacking the offices on the street running parallel to Lal Chowk .

Frame 5: The screen shows several scenes one after the other… of politicians addressing a large crowd, people hoisting flags atop a building, a large crowd shouting slogans etc. The headline now reads ‘Separatists don’t even spare Eid’ and soon changes to ‘Valley burns, Omar in Delhi’. The kicker first reads ‘Separatists fuel violence’ and then changes to „ Omar versus Separatists’ The line below the kicker first reads ‘Hurriyat chairman leading march’ and then changes to „ Protesters join the march in Srinagar’ . The icon showing location and time now reads: „ Lal Chowk: 1.00 pm’

Audio is interspersed with sounds of violence, protesters shouting slogans and the male voiceover narrating with long pauses. The aforementioned music can also be heard in the background. Mid-way through the narration, the voice-over pauses and there is a whooshing sound while the screen changes at the same time.

Frame 6: The screen shows more scenes of violence, protesters gathered in the square, fires burning etc. The headline reads: „ Politics of violence on Eid’ and then changes to ‘Separatist-led mob ransack’ The kicker first reads „ Separatists fuel violence’ and then changes to „ Omar versus Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads „ J&K police crime branch office set on fire ‟ and then changes to „ PDD office razed by mobs’ The icon displaying location and time reads: „ Jehangir Chowk: 2.00-2.30 pm’ .

The audio is that of the protesters shouting slogans, sounds of violence and the orchestrated music. And then the male voice-over comes in again and completes his narration.

Frame 7 : The screen shows the reporter on the spot showing the building that were burnt. The camera follows his narration, takes a close shot of the gutted building and then pans out to show the damage in its entirety. The headline reads: „ Mobs burn crime branch office ‟ and then reverts back to „Politics of violence on Eid‟ The kicker reads: ‘Omar versus Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads: ‘Protesters attack Power Development office’ and alternates with the reporter‟s credentials : ‘Fareed, reporting from Srinagar’ . An icon on the left side of the kicker reads: ‘Valley burns’ . Audio is that of the reporter speaking.

Reporter on the spot: This was the office of the Chief Engineer of the Power Development department as you can see… it has been completely burned down by the mob which really came in from Lal Chowk after attending the rally of Mirwaiz and after that really went on the rampage and burnt down the Chief Engineer's office and then if you... if I ask my cameraman to pan to the other side. .this, this building, this other building that you are seeing adjacent to the Chief Engineer's office is the building of the Power Development Corporation and to its other side is the building of the J&K Police Crime Branch. So all these buildings have been completely gutted.

Frame 8: The screen again shows scenes of violence, arson, people running down streets, protesters hurling stones etc. The headline reads: ‘Mobs burn down Crime Branch office .‟

The kicker reads: ‘Omar versus Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads: „ Forces resort to aerial firing to disperse the crowd’ . The icon displaying location and time now reads:

„Lal Chowk: 4.00 pm‟

The audio is sounds from the streets, people shouting, vehicles honking, distant sounds of gun shots etc. Then the male voice-over comes in.

Male voice-over: And soon, there was no sign of peaceful demonstrations. It was back to stone pelting and more clashes .

Frame 9 : The screen is now split into two. On the left side, S M Sahai, Inspector General, Kashmir is being interviewed. On the right side, the same scenes of violence are being replayed. The headline reads: „ Separatists don’t even spare Eid and then changes to

Valley burns, Omar in Delhi.’ The kicker reads: ‘Separatists fuel violence’ . The line below the kicker gives the credentials of the police officer. The icon at the bottom-left corner reappears and reads „ Valley burns’ as before. Audio is that of the IG officer speaking.

IG officer: Some of the participants took law in their own hands and attacked the building there which is housing the police personnel deployed for the security of the shrine as well as ‗ Moi Muqaddas‟.

Frame 10: The screen is split into four, all showing scenes of violence, previously played. The headline reads: „ Valley burns, Omar in Delhi’ . The kicker reads: ‘Omar versus

Separatists’ . The line below the kicker reads: ‘Police fire in the air to disperse protesters’ .

The icon at the bottom-left corner remains the same.

Audio is the sounds of violence with the aforementioned music in the background. Then the male voice-over comes in.

Male voice-over: This is what the people of the valley had to go through. Unprecedented violence by those who don't want to give peace a chance. With Mir Fareed in Srinagar, Vikram Sawant, Times Now.


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1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Splittists provoke India again’
2. Telecast date: 27 October 2010
3. Duration: 3.33 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Screen shows the Indian flag colours and a three-deck headline: ‘India’s democracy targeted’ . Audio is that of crashing cymbals.

Frame 2: The screen is split into two. On the left side, under a sub-headline „ Splittists dare

India ‟ are shown Gautam Navlakha and Arundhati Roy, both activist-writers conversing with each other. On the right with the sub-headline „ Maoists target democracy’ is shown scenes of violence at an election booth in Bihar... people waiting in queues to vote, torn ballot papers, blood stains on the road etc. The main headline reads: ‘India’s democracy targeted.’ On the top-left corner is an icon that reads: „ Democracy Attacked’ . Below is written:

‘Splittists ignore outrage, hold anti-national meet’ .

Audio is of a male voice-over narrating; he also doubles up as the anchor.

Male voice-over/anchor: In Srinagar today, a group of people met to take their anti-India agenda forward. Among the gathering were pro-Maoist terrorist sympathisers like Gautam Navlakha and Arundhati Roy. They are condoning the action of terrorists including those who today tried to stop thousands of voters in Bihar using violence conveniently forgetting that the India they are targeting is the same country that's actually given them the freedom to hold such anti-national meetings.

(Screen now shows the anchor in the television studio. He is dressed formally and there is the studio goings-on behind him. On the screen is the legend „9 pm‟ Audio is his narration continued.) But so nefarious was their anti-India agenda and so determined were they to keep it under wraps that the organisers barred Times Now from covering the event. Here‘s the story.

Frame 3: The screen shows Arundhati Roy walking out of a building. She is shown in black and white. The icon remains the same. The headline reads: „Splittists provoke again‟. Below is written in bold „Arundhati Roy.‟ And below her name is written: „ Has justified use of violence by Maoist terrorists‟.

Audio is of orchestrated bass-snare-cymbal drums rapidly rising in tempo. Then the screen shows Gautam Navlakha also in black n white. The icon and the headline remain the same while below, instead of Roy, his name is written in bold. And below his name is written:

Supports the Maoist cause’ . It then changes to a shot of Navlakha and Roy conversing with each other and smiling. The headline now reads: ‘Anti-India gathering in J&K.’ Below is written in bold: ‘Splittists dare India.’ The second line says: ‘Splittists defy India and hold second anti-national meet’ . The icon remains the same on the top-left corner. Audio is the same aforementioned music. And then the male voice-over comes in.

Male voice-over: The same faces. Spewing anti-India venom. Only this time the location is different. Sensitive Srinagar.

Frame 4: The camera follows the reporter on the spot who is chasing Arundhati Roy for a sound bite. The reporter calls out to her and she refuses to comment. He asks his question nevertheless and receives no answer. The icon remains on the top-left corner. The headline first reads ‘Ignore outrage, hold meet.’ Below is written in bold: „ Testing democracy’s limits’ . Below that is written, ‘Arundhati Roy, Maoist sympathizer’ . Then the headline changes to „ What’s there to hide? ‟ Below is written: „ Splittists dare India.’ And in the second line, there is a transcription of the reporter‟s question and ends with saying:

‘Arundhati Roy walks away .‟

Audio is of the reporting speaking.

Reporter on the spot: Ma‘am, Ma‘am (one can now hear Roy saying „no, no‟) No comments? (Laughs) I haven‘t asked a question yet...basically, the government has been, I mean, the central government, has been saying that, I mean, all sorts of charges like sedition and everything... so any comments on that? No comments?

Frame 5: The screen shows the reporter standing in a hall and speaking to the camera. The icon remains the same. The headline reads: ‘Times Now barred from meet.’ Below is the headline: ‘Splittists dare India’ . Soon all the other headlines mentioned above are played in sequence. The second line gives the credentials of the reporter and his location: ‘Fareed, reporting from Srinagar’. The audio is of the reporter speaking.

Reporter on the spot: It was in this very meeting hall that a local organisation had convened this seminar on ‗ Azadi ‘ and as we reached this morning to cover this event, to our surprise we were categorically told that video cameras were not allowed. However the most shocking part came later on when during this seminar, one of the organisers just stood up on the dais and announced that whosoever from Times Now is present in the audience, he please get up and leave the venue.

Frame 6: The screen is split into two. The left side shows a snippet from a debate that was telecast on the channel‟s „NewsHour‟ programme earlier in the week. On the right side, are slow-motion close-up shots of people sitting on a dais, presumably at the meeting. The icon remains the same. The headline reads: ‘Ignore outrage, hold meet’ . The headline below reads: ‘Splittists dare India.’ The second line reads: ‘Splittists defy India, hold second anti-national meet’ . The audio is of the male voice-over introduced by the aforementioned cymbal-crashing music. Also, voices from the debate can be heard but it is a jumble.

Male voice-over: The reason for the curb. Your channel exposing the dangerous seditious agenda of these splittists. (Now the screen changes to show an extract of the „Newshour debate‟ in which the anchor of that programme is asking: ‗Should the splittists, the seditionists, the anti-India voices have been allowed a platform to spread hate against their own country?) The reaction? Direct. With the Opposition seeking action.

Frame 7: The scene shows a close-up of a woman, presumably a member of the opposition, while the aforementioned music in rising tempo plays. The icon remains on the top-left corner.

The headline reads: ‘Times Now barred from meet.’ Below is the headline: ‘Splittists dare India.’ The second line reads: ‘Splittists defy India, hold second anti-national meet.’ Then the screen is split into two. On the left side is shown the same woman, now identified below as

‘Nirmala Seetharaman, National Spokesperson, BJP’ . The right side shows the shots of Arundhati Roy getting out of a building that was played before and other shots from the Srinagar meeting. The icon, headline and the headline below remain the same. The audio is of the BJP spokesperson speaking and the music is also playing in the background.

Nirmala Seetharaman: Separatists sitting with the intellectuals who support naxals who also are questioning our Constitution... all together on a platform… right in the national headquarters... in Delhi.

Frame 8: Everything remains the same as explained in Frame 7 except that in place of Nirmala Seetharaman, a close-up shot of Arun Jaitley, leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha is shown talking. It is a file interview (which is made clear by the date below reading Oct 22 2010.) The headline is now changed toAnti-India gathering in J&K’ Audio is of Mr Jaitley speaking and the background music.

Arun Jaitley: This is wholly unacceptable for any country. No democracy permits a Right to Sedition as a free right to any group of people. There is no free speech available which threatens to break up this country.

Frame 9: The screen replays the shots of Arundhati Roy and Gautam Navlakha used in the beginning. And then, there is shown a shot of Arundhati Roy speaking at the Srinagar meeting and she is saying “Everybody in Kashmir should have a very deep discussion”. There are more slow motion close-up shots of Roy. Audio is of orchestrated music gradually rising in tempo as well as that of the male voice-over narrating.

Male voice-over: The demand is justified when one considers that these are individuals who have never hesitated to back the Maoists or even the terrorists in the valley.

Frame 10: The screen shows a graphic with a bold double-decker headline on the right that says: „ Testing democracy’s limits’ . Below that is the question: „ Do you think the government would be well within its right to crack down on splittists? ‟ On the left is the photo of Arundhati Roy and political leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani (both unidentified on screen). Below this is the legend: ‘Interactive: Write to us at’ Audio is that of the aforementioned music and the male voice-over narrating.

Male voice-over: As of now, the government is weighing its options but the question we are asking.

Do you think the government would be well within its right to crack down on these splittists?

With Mir Fareed in Srinagar, Deepal, Times Now.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten




1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Vested groups behind Kashmir violence: Omar’
2. Telecast date: 29 June 2010
3. Duration: 1.57 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Screen shows rapidly moving images of scenes of violence… stone pelting, police chasing protesters, tyres burning on the road etc. Audio is a mixture of sounds of violence, people shouting, gun shots etc, the male voice-over narrating and orchestrated music gradually rising in tempo in the background. The main headline below says: „ J&K continues to simmer’. The headline above alternates between „ 3 dead in Anantnag protests’ and „ Amarnath Yatra under threat .‟ The legend CNN-IBN is on the bottom right corner of the screen.

Male voice-over: Kashmir on the boil. For the second straight day. Circle of violence continues. Three more civilians killed on Tuesday. Violence spreading to Sopore and Srinagar and several areas under curfew. The situation has forced the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister to come out and appeal for peace.

Frame 2: The screen shows a close-up shot of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah speaking at a press conference. The main headline remains the same while a line below it gives the credentials of the chief minister. The headline above now reads: „ Omar blames antinationals ‟. Audio is of the chief minister speaking.

Omar Abdullah: I would like to condole the deaths that have taken place in the recent days. Frame 3: The screen again shows rapidly changing images of the violence on the streets – stone pelting, police and security forces chasing protesters, a funeral procession etc. Finally is shown a slow-motion close-up of a cop being beaten up by protesters. The main headline below remains the same. The headline above alternates between „ Kashmir on the boil’ and „ Omar blames anti-nationals .‟ The audio is of the male voice-over narrating interspersed with sounds of violence and the aforementioned music in the background.

Male voice-over: Twenty-four hours back, Omar was pointing fingers at the CRPF describing them as a force gone out of control, blaming them for the death of a nine-year-old local boy. But on Tuesday, he appeared to be taking a more balanced view of the situation. These pictures of protestors beating up a cop, perhaps forcing the chief minister to look at the protests a little differently.

Frame 4 : The screen is back to showing the chief minister at the press conference. Every other element on the screen is the same as in Frame 2. Audio is of the chief minister speaking and his sentence is cut short in the middle.

Omar Abdullah: It is a battle of ideologies in which various... various anti national forces and vested interests have come together to create trouble. It is extremely unfortunate that

Frame 5: The screen shows some women gesticulating at security forces and then it plays a series of images of the violence which were replayed before. Then it shows banners announcing the „Amarnath Yatra‟ and pilgrims and tourists on their way to the shrine. The main headline below remains the same while the headlines above alternate between „ Army on standby in Kashmir’ , „ 3 dead in Anantnag protests’ and „ Amarnath Yatra under threat? ‟ Audio is of the male voice-over and shouts of protest and sloganeering can be heard in the background.

Male voice-over: On the ground, citizens are crying out as they lose their business and see their daily lives affected. The other worrying factor for the state government is the Amarnath Yatra which begins from the first of July and security of pilgrims. Any further violence could put pressure on the government to relook at its schedule which till now remains the same.

Frame 6: The screen shows the reporter at the spot giving his piece to the camera. He is standing on the side of what looks like a road on any busy day. The headlines below and above are the same as in Frame 5. A line below the headline at the bottom gives the credentials of the reporter. Audio is of reporter speaking and vehicles moving on the road can be heard in the background.

Reporter at the spot: The flames of the street rage that started off from Srinagar and Sopore has now travelled to south Kashmir and beyond. For the young chief minister, the challenges keep piling on. He not only has to contain the raging fire but also has to ensure the safe conduct of Amarnath Yatra. In Srinagar, Mufti Islah.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten




1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Pak terror groups behind Kashmir violence’
2. Telecast date: 9 July 2010
3. Duration: 3.17 minutes
4. View online at:

Frame 1: Screen shows a formally-dressed female anchor speaking to the camera. Behind her is shown a blown-up picture of a policeman holding a shield and crouching. Soon, the screen changes and it now shows a split screen where on the left side, shots of stone-pelting and the security forces tackling the protesters are shown. On the right side in a blue square box run the following wordings sequentially: „ Sources: Fresh transcripts of phone calls reveal Hizbul link; Transcript of talk between Hizbul commander &; Commander checks on whether stone-pelting is on; Commander checks on army deployment in J&K ‟ The headline alternates between „ Hizb, Lashkar stoking violence ‟ and ‘Hands behind valley violence’ Audio is that of the anchor narrating.

Then there comes a bold headline on the screen graphically, accompanied by a whooshing sound. The headline reads: „ Hizbul, LeT, resonsible?’ (sic) Then the female anchor continues to narrate while the screen now shows a series images corresponding with the anchor‟s narration – of people pelting stones, policemen holding shields, shots from a press conference held by Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and close-up shots of Geelani speaking and writing. The headlines alternate as before. Below is another kicker headline that reads: „ Hizbul hand in stone pelting? ‟ The line below it reads: ‘Sources: Fresh phone transcripts in.’ and then changes to ‘Leader asks if stone-pelting is on.’

Female anchor: The big story that is coming in this evening. Government sources say that fresh transcripts of telephone conversations show that the Hizbul is adding to the recent unrest in the Valley. This new transcript is apparently of a conversation between a Srinagar-based Hizbul commander and a stone pelting suspect. The commander Abu Inquilabi asked the suspect of stone pelting is on to which the suspect says yes. Inquilabi then asks about government army deployment in the valley to which the suspect answers yes.

Remember all of this is coming after the arrest of Separatist leader Shabbir Ahmed Wani in Budgaon. He was heard in conversation with another separatist leader allegedly instigating violence in the Valley. On Thursday, top sources in the Home Ministry told CNN-IBN that the intelligence intercepts point to the hand of hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani's Hurriyat for the recent violence. CNN-IBN has accessed the intercepts of those conversations between hardline leaders. Let's umm… listen in.

Frame 2: The legend „ CNN-IBN exclusive’ comes at you from the screen graphically accompanied by a whooshing sound. Then the screen shows a shadow representation of two people – Ghulam Ahmed Dar on the left side and Shabbir Ahmed Wani on the right side with their names written below. In the middle is written the headline: „ Separatists role in violence?’ Below is the transcript of the alleged conversation between these two accompanied by a graphic of what looks like an equalizer. The audio is cacophonic and inaudible.

Frame 3 : The screen shows the female anchor again with the same blown-up picture of the policeman holding a shield behind her. The audio is the anchor narrating.

Female anchor: CNN-IBN Senior Editor Anubha Bhonsle spoke to Special DG (Director General), CRPF, N K Tripathi in Srinagar. He is backing his men saying they have shown tremendous restraint during extreme violence.

Frame 4: The screen is split into two. The left side shows images of violence from the streets of Kashmir one after the other, some of which have been played before. On the right side, the Special DG, CRPF, Mr N K Tripathi is being interviewed. Initially, we only see him but a little later, the reporter is also shown. The headline alternates between „ Valley on the edge’ and „ CNN-IBN exclusive .‟ The left side screen is labelled „ 6th July’ 10’ while the right screen is labeled ‘Srinagar’ . Below is the headline „ Face extreme pressure’ and soon changes to ‘Crowd instigated’ . Later it becomes „ CRPF camp ransacked’ and finally changes to ‘Miscreants are paid’ . The second line gives the credentials of the officer being interviewed. Audio is that of the officer and the reporter speaking in turns and shouts of protesters, gun shots and other sounds of violence in the background.

Reporter: Flip side is you are having young boys and girls who are now falling prey to bullets by security forces. Isn't there any other way to counter the situation?

CRPF Officer: There is and we are resorting to all possible methods. It is not that we resort to use of force all the time. There is the sort of restraint our force has shown. Probably one of the best in the whole world. CRPF has taken as many as 1,900 injuries in the last two years after the Amarnath Yatra row came into the forefronts... we have taken... and even in the last one month, over 200 our jawans and officers have been injured. This shows how much restraint we are having. It is only when there is imminent danger of loss of life and property that force is used.

Reporter: I am just trying to… um… bring out the other point of view… um… that would only be reasonable. What would you say to someone whose son or young boy has died? Let's say, because of a tear gas shell... we have had an incident… (very faintly) of that kind.

CRPF officer: Yeah...there are cases...even we have seen in the recent incidents also...people have died...the young teenagers have died because of the tear gas shells. I can only say that it is very should not have taken place. But we are doing the job of what we are supposed to do...that is the maintenance of law and order...and come what may, we have to do our job.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten




1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Omar blames Mirwaiz for Eid violence’

2. Telecast date: 12 September 2010

3. Duration: 1.53 minutes (Note: The video has been trimmed to include only the report on

Kashmir. This excludes the subsequent interview of the Chief Minister and others that the actual entire clip contains.)

4. View online at:

Frame 1: The screen shows a sequence of images of protesters gathered in huge numbers shouting slogans, street violence, burning buildings and huge crowds who are protesting in unison. The headline below reads: ‘Eid violence in Srinagar’ . Above, the headlines appear in a sequence: ‘Mob attacks after prayers’; ‘Uneasy calm prevails’ . Audio is initially of the sloganeering of the crowd who can be heard saying: „Hum kya chahtey hein? Azadi!‟ ( What do we desire? Freedom!) Later, the male voice-over comes in. Once the narration begins, the images on the screen are shown in sequence corresponding to what the voice-over is saying… clock tower being burnt, shots fired in the air, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah walking briskly along with his aides, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq at the Eid prayers etc.

Male voice-over: People versus State once again. On the streets of Srinagar. Government offices in the ... (unclear) building, police post, barracks and vehicles torched, even Lal Chowk‘s historic clock tower wasn‘t spared. At Hazratbal, police fired in the air to disperse the mob. A violent Eid in Srinagar for the first time in 20 years of a turbulent Valley and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah blames this man for turning festivity into fire. Mirwaiz Omar Farooq after leading prayers at the Eidgah ground called for a protest march to Lal Chowk.

Frame 2: There is a transition from the images and this transition is indicated by a graphic headline coming in from the screen. The headline reads: ‘Eid violence in Kashmir’ . Then the screen is split into two. On the left side is the mug shot of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah with the left screen being labeled „ Exclusive ‟ and the CM‟s credentials below. On the right side, the previously played shots of street violence and protests are replayed. The headline reads „ Eid violence in Srinagar.’ Audio is that of the chief minister speaking, presumably in an earlier interview.

Then the male voice-over comes in to continue his narration and the screen shows a close-up shot of Mirwaiz Omar Farooq at the Eidgah ground prayer meeting. Then the screen is split into two again and instead of Omar Abdullah‟s mug shot, there is now the mug shot of the Mirwaiz with his cre dentials below which reads: Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, Chairman, Hurriyat Conference.’ The rest of the screen retains the previously-mentioned elements.

Audio is of the Mirwaiz speaking.

Omar Abdullah: The Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik abused not only the faith and trust we had put by allowing them to take out this demonstration but I think they also abused the sanctity of the festival of Eid.

Male voice-over: But Mirwaiz denies inciting violence.

Mirwaiz: Today, while we were leaving from the Eidgah, I had made it absolutely clear to the people that this would be peaceful. It was peaceful...and (audio is cut)

Frame 3: The screen shows more shots of burning buildings and violence on the streets of Srinagar. The headline below reads: „ Eid violence in Srinagar’ Above, the headlines alternate between: ‘Omar: They betrayed our trust’ and ‘Mirwaiz: We condemn violence.’ Next, the screen shows a graphic montage where the headline reads: „ Armed Forces Special Powers Act’. Below are shown in sequence mug shots of: Prithviraj Chauhan and A K Antony (their credentials identified in the voice-over‟s narration) with the headline: ‘Feel removal will demoralize Army’ ; next is that of Chidambaram with the headline ‘Favours partial withdrawal’ ; after him comes Pranab Mukherjee with the headline

Favours middle path’ and finally are the mugshots of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi with the headline: „ Humane and holistic approach’ . Audio is that of the male voice-over along with orchestrated background music gradually rising in tempo.

Male voice-over: As Srinagar burnt, the proposal to withdraw AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) from the Valley now lies at the CCS' table till Monday after divisions within the government and the partyh on the issue delayed the meet. Sources say Prithviraj Chauhan and Defence Minister A K Antony stuck to their stand that any change or selective withdrawal of the AFSPA would demoralise the Army. Home Minister P Chidambaram is in favour of withdrawal. Pranab Mukherjee though is following the middle path and feels it is important to send a message from the Centre. The prime minister and Sonia Gandhi want a humane and holistic approach.

Frame 4: The screen is back to showing a sequence of images of street violence, which were played before – protesters shouting slogans, hoisting flags, burning buildings etc. The headline below reads: ‘Mob burns police barrack .‟ The headline above reads ‘Police open fire, no injuries .‟ Audio is that of the male voice-over with sounds of violence and protesters shouting slogans being clearly heard in the background.

Male voice-over: But with Eid violence hitting Srinagar before the PM‘s Eid initiative, this equation could change. The CCS will also mull over a renewed dialogue offer with Kashmiri hardliners and Geelani's release today has indicated the swing. With Mufti Islah in Srinagar, in New Delhi, Aatish.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten




Note: These are two related short clips that were telecast on consecutive days. Both have been considered as a single sample for the sake of convenience and continuity. Here they will be labeled as 4A and 4B.


1. Title of video clip on website: ‘Geelani, Roy to be booked?’

2. Telecast date: 26 October 2010

3. Duration: 1.46 minutes

4. View online at:

Frame 1: Screen shows a Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani speaking on a dais with many mikes in front and a banner behind him. The headline below says, „ Geelani, Roy to be booked?’ The second shot shows Arundhati Roy speaking on a public platform again, with lots of mikes in front of her and a banner behind. But this time the location is identified as New Delhi. The shift to the second shot is accompanied by crashing cymbals. Audio is that of Geelani speaking in Urdu and Arundhati Roy speaking in English.

Geelani: „Hum ko majboor kar rahey hein ke bhai hum Bharat ke fauji tasalluf se azaadi hasil karey‟ (We are being forced to wrest independence from India‘s army forces‘)

Roy: People within the state of Jammu and Kashmir are quite capable of having by themselves…

Frame 2: The screen shows many shots from what looks like a panel discussion on a stage. Arundhati Roy, Geelani and others are sharing the stage. There is a banner behind that says „ Azadi: The only way‟. Then there is also a shot of people shouting slogans and protesting on the dais. The headline below says: „Charged with sedition?‟ Audio is that of the female voiceover.

Female voice-over: The pitch seems to be queering for Syed Ali Shah Geelani and his supporters. Legal opinion given to the government of India suggests that both Geelani and Roy can be prosecuted under Section 124(a) of the Indian Penal Code on charges of Sedition.

(The screen now shows a judge's gavel on the right and the exact wordings of the Section 124(a), also being read out by the female voice-over.)

The IPC says: Anyone who by words or expressions of any kinds brings or attempts to bring or provoke a feeling of hatred, contempt or disaffection towards government established by law is culpable under sec 124A.

Frame 3: More shots from the seminar are shown and then a bold headline „ Charged with sedition’ comes at you from the screen accompanied by a whooshing sound. The voice-over continues to narrate. Then, the screen shows Geelani speaking and once he completes his sentence, his supporters laugh. Then the screen shows more shots of the seminar, now focusing on Arundhati Roy (it is made clear that she is speaking in New Delhi). The audio is that of the voice-over continuing narration. The headline below continues to read,Geelani, Roy to be booked? ‟ The headline with the whooshing sound is again repeated.

Female voice-over: The maximum punishment under this section is Life Imprisonment but Geelani is unfazed.

Geelani:Ye mere khilaf ab tak navve FIR darj hochuke hey... ekanve aur ek..‟ (laughter all round.) (This is the 90th FIR that is being registered against me… another 91st will not make a difference.)

Female voice-over: Arundhati Roy, who has been opposing the government on the Naxal issue, continued to test the Establishment‘s patience. Minutes after she landed in Srinagar, Roy repeated that Kashmir was never a part of India... a statement that the Jammu and Kashmir police is now examining to explore legal action.

Frame 4: The screen shows a reporter standing in New Delhi and giving her piece to the camera. It is evening and there is a fountain behind her. Audio is the reporter speaking. The headline reads: „ Charged with sedition? ‟ Below are the credentials of the reporter: „ Arunima, CNN-IBN correspondent.‟

Reporter: The government is treading with caution. They are not yet going by this legal opinion alone. What the sources are saying ultimately whether to take action against Geelani and Roy will be a political decision.

Frame 5 : The screen again replays shots from the seminar focusing on the audience and close-ups of Geelani. The female voice-over continues the narration. Then the screen shows Manish Tiwari, Spokesperson, Congress, being interviewed. The headline remains the same and his credentials are given in the second line. After him, comes the interview of Siddharth Nath Singh, Spokesperson, BJP. Again, the headline remains the same and his credentials are given below.

Female voice-over: But the political parties seem to agree with the legal opinion.

Manish Tiwari: Well, anybody who has violated the law must be prepared for the rigours of the law to visit him.

Siddharth Nath Singh: This is a pure case and a straight case for Sedition. They should have done it a long time. But anyway, if they go ahead, it will be a welcome step.

Female voice-over: New Delhi, Arunima.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


5. Title of video clip on website: ‘Govt unlikely to take action against Arundhati’

6. Telecast date: 27 October 2010

7. Duration: 2.01 minutes

8. View online at:

Frame 1: The screen shows a montage of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and then Arundhati Roy and then settles into a red screen with a map of Kashmir in the background and the words ‘Sedition or Democracy’ in bold. Audio is orchestrated rising tempo music ending with crashing cymbals.

Frame 2 : The screen shows a formally-dressed female anchor in the studio. Behind her is the above-mentioned montage. She begins her piece and then the screen shows Arundhati Roy sitting (and later speaking at) in the audience presumably at some unidentified function as one can hear somebody singing in the background. The screen then splits into two. While the right side continues to show a slow-motion close up shot of Roy at the function, the left screen has the headline: „ No action against Arundhati? ‟ Below it is displayed in sequence, parts of sentences which the anchor is uttering.

Female anchor: To another top story. What's in store for writer-activist Arundhati Roy? Top government sources have told CNN-IBN that the centre is unlikely to take any action against her for her comments on Kashmir. The government does not want to escalate the situation based on comments made by one individual. Also, with Barack Obama's visit in November, the government does not want to internationalise the issue.

Frame 3: The screen shows excerpts from a „ Sedition or democracy‟ debate conducted on the channel a few days ago. The particular excerpt is a quote from Mahesh Jethmalani, a senior lawyer. The screen alternates between showing his close-up and a split screen where all the participating actors in the debate are shown. The transition is made clear by showing the icon of the debate programme, „ Talking Point‟. Audio is that of the debate moderator and the lawyer speaking, sometimes in turns, sometimes interrupting each other.

Mahesh Jethmalani: This is not just a statement saying let's have self-determination, let the people of Kashmir decide their own future etc. This is a concrete statement saying Kashmir is not an integral part of India. I mean… this is a secessionist statement...that is a statement which runs... which undermines the concept of Indian nationhood so far as Kashmir is concerned.

Debate moderator: But when he makes that... But is Roy the first person to make that? Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani makes that every day in the Valley. Why when he makes those statements he is not charged with sedition? Many writers have said that statement in the past.

Mahesh Jethmalani: I fully agree with you that before you prosecute Arundhati Roy, and I am again at one with Harish Salve in saying that we should ignore a fringe element like her...She doesn't speak for anybody, neither the Indian people... and we are.. we are used to Arundhati Roy‘s sometimes very passionate outpourings.

Frame 4: The screen now is back to showing the anchor in the studio. Once she begins her piece, the screen changes to a split screen. On the left side is the exact quote by Arundhati Roy (which is read out by the anchor). On the right, is again replayed the shots of Roy sitting in the audience at a function. The headline reads: ‘Arundhati on Kashmir.’ Below are given her credentials: ‘Arundhati Roy, Writer & Activist’ . Audio is that of the anchor speaking as well as that of the girl singing at the function.

Female anchor: Well, here is the comment that landed Arundhati Roy in trouble and I quote: ―Kashmir has never been an integral part of India – it is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this.‖ Unquote.

Frame 5: A graphic montage comes at you from the screen. It reads: „No action against Roy?‟ in bold. The female anchor continues narrating while on the screen is shown scenes from what is presumably a public seminar, where Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani are sharing a stage, conversing with each other etc. The headline below reads: ‘Case filed against Arundhati.’ The second line reads: „ Ranchi resident files sedition case .‟ Audio is that of the anchor but faint voices from the seminar… of the speakers and the audience can be heard in the background.

Female anchor: The centre may be hestatin…(coughs) am sorry, hesitating but a Ranchi resident has gone ahead and filed a case of Sedition against Arundhati Roy for that comment. The complaint was lodged by Ashish Kumar Singh in the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court on Monday saying he wants action to be taken against Arundhati Roy under Section 124(a) of the Indian Penal Code that deals with Sedition.


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


[1] India Media Market Report 2009 by GroupM (a syndicated survey company). The report can be accessed online at Magazines-Radio-Outdoor-Digital-Cinema-Retail-Media

[2] He also got it inscribed on a black pavilion in one of the terraces of the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar, which he got built for his wife.

[3] Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere, With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave, Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear, As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave! Lines from his 1817 poem „Lalla Rookh‟

[4] Kashmiriyat is a composite Kashmiri identity irrespective of religion and was a concept espoused by 14th century Muslim ruler Zian-ul-Abdeen to define the cordial relationship of Hindus and Muslims in the Valley in the past (Tremblay, 2009).

[5] Several scholars have rich, extensively detailed account of this part of history. Foremost among them are works by scholars Ramachandra Guha, Sumit Ganguly, Sumantra Bose, Ashutosh Varshney and Victoria Schofield. Their works are cited in the references and additional bibliography as appropriate.

[6] Alastair Lamb (1992) claims in his book that the Indian troops entered Kashmir before the instrument of accession was signed while others like Prem Nath Bazaz (1996) present an alternate version of the events (both cited in Tremblay, 2009).

[7] There were three pre-conditions according to the Indian government, the first of which was ‗complete withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Kashmir‘ which they claimed Pakistan didn‘t carry out (Thomas, 1992).

[8] The soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan meant that experienced Mujahideen fighters could now be provided with a new cause and it was these fighters who entered the Valley (Ganguly, 1996; BBC, 2011).

[9] Currently, the much-opposed Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act (AFSPA) exists. It was applied in Kashmir in 1990 and gives the armed forces carte blanche powers to search, arrest and shoot people with immunity (Kaul, 2010). Various national and international human rights organisations have provided detailed accounts of the extrajudicial murders, looting, harassment of civilians and rapes by security forces as well as militants. Teresa Joseph (2000) has a detailed section on the human rights‘ violations in Kashmir in her analysis. Other sources include Amnesty International and Asia Watch and news reports from Time, Channel 4 and BBC. (All cited in additional bibliography.)

[10] An independent fact-finding report (The Other Media, 2011) that enquired into the four months of turmoil in Kashmir provides specific details about how the ‗uprising‘, as the report calls the protests, began. It also claims that the mass protests were not only met with ‗overwhelming force‘ (p1) by Indian security forces but there were also incidents where mourners and people just going about their daily activities were fired upon. It refutes the government‘s stand that the security forces were mostly acting in self-defence and describes the killings as a ‗strategy of shock and awe‘ (p70) to actively discourage demonstrations in the Valley.

[11] This is a summary of an encyclopaedia reference (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011) and several news reports of the incident, all cited in additional bibliography.

[12] For a more detailed look at the role and power of the media when it comes to nationalist imagination, please refer to Chapter 1 and Chapter 3.

[13] For a more detailed analysis of the history of the Kashmir conflict, please refer to Chapter 2.

[14] There are undoubtedly other alternatives available in qualitative methods as well and I initially contemplated conducting interviews for a deeper examination of TV news production and a focus group study for analysing audience response. This seemed like an extremely promising research design; as in this way, a wholesome analysis could be conducted ensuring that the findings are more extensive and detailed. But soon, it was clear that this would be a job too big for a research of this scale and there would simply be not enough time and resources to do so.

[15] See

[16] Websites of the channels: and

[17] For details on the phases of violence and number of samples, please refer to Chapter 4 on Methodology. Also, refer to Appendix A-H for a complete transcription of the samples and all screenshots.

[18] Every year in summer Hindu devotees undertake a pilgrimage to the Amarnath caves situated on Mount Amarnath at an altitude of 3,888 m, around 150 km from Srinagar. The shrine in the caves is said to be 5,000 years old and is considered to be one of the holiest. In 2008, wide scale protests had broken out in the Valley over a land transfer to the Amarnath Shrine Board by the government, with some protesting against the transfer and others supporting it.

[19] The unofficial standpoint is radically different. An independent fact-finding report on the 2010 Kashmir ‗uprising‘ (The Other Media report, 2011) for instance, claims evidence from civil society groupings and Kashmiri local media that the Valley demonstrations were more a reflection of public unrest and a continuation of the azaadi movement rather than a Pakistan-coordinated conspiracy. It argues that the uncoordinated and sporadic protests gained currency and unity after the security forces killed a few innocent youngsters believing them to be ‗terrorists‘ in what the forces termed 'an armed encounter' in April 2010. Later, after the locals protested furiously, there was an official admission of error.

[20] Ironically, Syed Shah Geelani, a long-time supporter for the merger of J & K into Pakistan and a known face in the radical Islamist movement that originated around 1989, emerged as a rallying point for azaadi seekers. It could be argued that this was more due to his sharp political acumen and ability to play the right cards than support for his political beliefs.

[21] ‗Mirwaiz‘ is also an inherited religious title loosely translated to ‗head priest‘. Umar Farooq is a powerful political and religious leader of the moderate faction of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. He spoke to the Eid congregation and called for a march to the centre of Srinagar. Violence broke out during the march, security forces fired tear gas shells, government buildings were torched and at least seven people were killed and many injured. The BBC reported that the people of Kashmir were congregated in thousands and were carrying green Islamic flags, demanding autonomy and freedom (BBC, 2010). That week in September was in fact was the worst in the entire cycle of violence. On 13 September itself, 20 were killed while 18 civilians were shot dead on 15 September. Protests reached a fever pitch after an Iranian news channel Press TV broadcast news of the alleged burning of the Holy Quran in the U.S. The report turned out to be false but it had caused damage in an already restive Kashmir (BBC, 2010; NDTV, 2010; The Other Media report, 2011).

[22] Please refer to chapter 2 on historical background of the Kashmir conflict for more on AFSPA.

[23] After the intense violence in September that was rapidly taking on international hues, the Union government sent an all-party delegation to assess the situation and later announced that a team of ‗interlocutors‘ would gauge the public opinion in Kashmir. They began to do so in mid-October. The prime minister also discussed possibilities of ‗engaging the youth of Kashmir‘ and special economic packages for the region to soothe tensions. 28 In October, a day-long conference ' Azaadi -- the only way' was held in New Delhi attended by Arundhati Roy, Syed Shah Geelani and several other activists, public intellectuals and writers. Subsequently a second seminar on

[24] US President Obama was scheduled to visit the country that very week.

[25] Please refer to Chapter 1.

141 of 141 pages


Azadi on the Idiot Box. An analysis of television coverage of Kashmir
Research on television media
Swansea University
Erasmus Mundus Masters in Globalisation and Media
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ISBN (Book)
File size
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media, television, India, Kashmir, analysis, channels, research, popular, riots, violence, coverage, bias, minorities, islam, muslims, indian, commercial, broadcasting, intifida, freedom, plebiscite
Quote paper
Rashmi Vasudeva (Author), 2011, Azadi on the Idiot Box. An analysis of television coverage of Kashmir, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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