When abnormal enters the realm of normal, horrible happenings get normalized. The incident recently of some female pilgrims to Amarnath shrine reportedly complaining of ‘molestation’ attempts near their tent along the mountainous route brought such an instance to the fore. Different reports that appeared in various news spaces accused different sets of people for the alleged offence.
First it was said that some paramilitary soldiers were involved and when some local Kashmiri porters protested on behalf of the pilgrims they were thrashed. Later the exact opposite was reported by a spokesperson of the paramilitary force accusing the locals of attempting molestation of the pilgrims. No one made an effort to trace the ‘aggrieved’ pilgrims to get the real story out. And, readers of different spaces believed according to the convenience of their own set beliefs. That is where the story ended. So, it became a story that happens away from the media glare, thus un-scrutinized.
In a conflict zone where the line between political and security considerations is often blurred the police must exercise a more thorough role of providing accurate information.
This is something often sacrificed while reporting events where media cannot reach immediately and the actuality remains buried, the victims’ grievance relegated without redressal. Consider what it can do to public opinion in far flung areas where horrible incidents have entered this realm. Part of the responsibility also lies on the media establishments that report a particular version and then conveniently forget to follow through before forgetting a particular story. Similarly, very often controversies are closed with the availability of official versions. Official truth becomes the truth and the rest remains in doubt in perpetuity. If prolonged, the situation takes away public faith in institutions, both in the governmental ones and the ethical like the media.
In the case of the pilgrims, there are various institutions like the police, paramilitary, the shrine board Governor’s office that should have come out with a detailed report of the facts surrounding the alleged attempt of molestation. The whole concern boils to transparency above politicking and the exercise of ethics by concerned individuals and authorities – the bedrock of genuine democracy.
It is of course utopian to imagine that malafide intention and possibility of unpleasant or horrible incidents will not remain, but as long as the endeavor for transparency and adherence to the exercise of conscience is put above any other consideration a great degree of alienation between the governments or establishment and the people will keep increasing that then jeopardizes the health of a system that ought to consistently gear itself for the welfare of citizens.