Kashmir constitutes only 18 percent of the geographical area of the J&K state, but decides on the discourse of the entire state as a federal entity of the Indian nation.
Abuse of the army and the AFSPA has now been developed into a fine art as a part of this discourse.
The architect of this discourse is the ISI, and the separatists and the jihadis are the tools. As this discourse gained sophistication, and financial muscle, many mainstream journalists and activists were roped in. Many of them enjoyed the hospitality of the 'Fai Foundation'.
Similarly, there is a sizeable constituency of activists, professionals and journalists, rabidly pro-China, espousing the cause of Northeast insurgents and Maoists. This constituency has always been in existence since independence, but their voices were muted.
Nationalism then was largely a non-negotiable attribute. With increasing inflow of cash and proliferation of media platforms, these voices have become more strident and are being amplified for ulterior motives including monetary considerations.
One TV channel hosts a regular programme wherein actors and actresses visit border and insurgency-impacted areas including Kashmir and partake in all the activities of army personnel. It is indeed an imaginative melange of glamour, soldiering and patriotism to ratchet up TRPs. The army personnel are portrayed as a paragon of human virtues.
On the other hand, the same channel has hosted debates on the AFSPA at least half a dozen times. The setting of the debate, though speciously non-partisan, is heavily loaded against the Army. There are many unsavory characters, with no connections or background to Kashmir or the Northeast, labeling the army personnel as rapists and trigger-happy monsters.
The timing of these debates is highly suspicious.
The last debate on the said TV channel on the AFSPA synchronised with Prashant Bhushan's remarks on a plebiscite in Kashmir, the flagging of a 4500 km rally from Kashmir to Manipur against the AFSPA, Omar Abdullah's statement on the AFSPA, Imran Khan's aggressive rhetoric on Kashmir in Pakistan, and the US-Pakistan standoff over the latter's support to terrorists in Afghanistan.
Intriguingly, this was at a time when the summer in Kashmir has been most tranquil!
Image Indian army Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain lays a wreath onto a coffin containing the body of a Indian army officer during a wreath laying ceremony in Srinagar on August 21, 2011.