DD News editor stops anti-Pak propaganda from R-Day
Upset over State awards, Malik refuses to comment on Rs 120 cr Pak media campaign
AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
SRINAGAR, Feb 7: Doordarshan’s unparalleled anti-militancy hero, Bashir Ahmed Malik Athar, has dramatically stopped all of Srinagar Doordarshan propaganda against Pakistan, militants and the separatist Hurriyat Conference from this year’s Republic Day even as Pakistan has, for the first time, announced to earmark a special outlay of Rs 120 Cr for its anti-India propaganda campaign.
Immediately after Omar Abdullah-led coalition government announced this year’s prestigious State Awards on Republic Day, on January 26, Srinagar DD News Editor, Bashir Malik Athar, has stopped the anti-militant, anti-Pakistan campaign he and his wife have run from the country’s most disturbed beat in the last 20 years of Kashmir militancy. More paradoxically, DD’s news bulletins have been cleared of entire anti-militant, anti-Pakistan and anti-Hurriyat propaganda at a time when Pakistan has, for the first time in last 20 years, officially declared to earmark a special anti-India propaganda outlay of Rs 120 Cr. Senior Pakistani government functionaries made this announcement on the “Kashmir Solidarity Day” on February 5th.
Informed sources in DD revealed to Early Times that Deputy Director of DD News and editor of all DD news bulletins in Kashmir, Bashir Malik, has not only stopped his special anti-Pakistan and anti-militancy capsules but has also directed his staff to work“like everybody else in DD and Radio Kashmir”. According to sources, Malik has been “demoralized” by the way government has conferred the State Awards “even on the peoples who have religiously maligned the Government of India and its institutions” in the last 20 years.
DD’s regular viewers have noticed that Srinagar DD and DD Kashir have not run any anti-militant, anti-separatist or anti-Pakistan capsules in their daily news bulletins from Srinagar since January 27 last. Asked about this sudden change, Malik refused to make any comment. When it was pointed out to him that DD’s anti-Pakistan propaganda had stopped at a time when Pakistan had announced a special outlay of Rs 120 cr for anti-India media campaign on February 5th, Malik said: “I have no comments”.
Malik and his wife, Gurjit Kaur Malik, have been the incharge of entire anti-Pakistan, anti-militant and anti-Hurriyat propaganda from Srinagar station of DD as well as Radio Kashmir Srinagar since 1990. On account of their unmatched propaganda work for the Indian official broadcaster, this couple has been in high security category. Malik has been the only official in DD and All India Radio who could not even attend the funeral of his parents when they passed away one after another in his ancestral village of Damhal Khushipora in the mostly militant-infested district of Anantnag in South Kashmir.
The Malik couple has been indisputably responsible for Government of India’s conducting nearly a dozen Assembly, Lok Sabha and municipal elections with the support of their hardcore propaganda against militants and Pakistan. It was again this couple that was instrumental in shifting the regional news units of DD and All India Radio in 1993 from Delhi and Jammu respectively, in three years of complete closure of DD and Akashwani news in Srinagar in the wake of the assassination of then DDK Srinagar Director Lassa Kaul in March 1990.
Author of four of his poetry collections in Kashmiri and Urdu, besides a book on Indira Gandhi’s life and achievements, Bashir Malik had joined Films Division in 1980. Later, he worked with Press Information Bureau, Field Publicity Unit and other Government of India organizations in Ministry of Information and Broadcasting before joining as Assistant News Editor at DDK Srinagar and Radio Kashmir Srinagar.
Recipient of DD’s prestigious awards for “Best Current Affairs Programme” (Amarnath land controversy) as also winning Best Regional News Unit Award for DDK Srinagar, Malik has had the distinction of having written and produced DD’s first ever anti-Pakistan, anti-militant programme “Agaaz” as also Radio Kashmir’s first ever programme in this category “Sada-e-Jaras” in 1993. Militants have made several attempts to kidnap or eliminate Mr and Mrs Malik in the last two decades of Kashmir insurgency.
Malik had taken a dangerous line by running hardcore propaganda programmes against Hurriyat-sponsored shutdown calls, burning of public properties besides stone pelting of mobs in recent times during Amarnath land allotment controversy in 2007 and later during Shopian-related riots last year. In the last few months, he had run a sustained campaign against stone pelting frenzy and repeated shutdowns in Kashmir.
Sources said that Mr or Mrs Malik have never figured among the nominees of State Awards in media category ever since these wards were, for the first time, institutionalized by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government in J&K in 2003-04.
While as Omar Abdullah Government had granted “Outstanding Mediaperson of the Year” (State Awards) for 2008-09 to NDTV’s Srinagar Bureau Chief, Nazir Masoodi, Economic Times Srinagar correspondent, Masood Hussain, and Daily Excelsior photographer late Ashok Sodhi, year 2009-10 State Awards in this category have gone to NDTV’s Nidhi Razdan, Times Now TV’s Mahrukh Anayat (Kashmiri women journalists based in New Delhi), Kashmir Times New Delhi Bureau Chief Iftikhar Gilani, Radio Kashmir’s daily current affairs programme, Sheherbeen, and its editor Maqsood Ahmed. Veteran journalists and founder editors of Urdu daily Aftab and Urdu daily Srinagar Times, namely Khwaja Sonaullah Bhat and Sofi Ghulam Mohammad, who passed away both in 2009, were also awarded posthumously.
Previous recipients have been Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, then Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior (2003-04) and Jammu Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, Sanjeev Pargal, and Srinagar Times cartoonist, Bashir Ahmed Bashir, (2004-05). None of the mediapersons was nominated for State Award for the years 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08.