Disclaimer: I did not want to write this.
US Congressional hearing on Kashmir has now generated a lot of buzz in India. Aarti Tikoo Singh, a journalist with the Times of India, is at the centre of this debate.
Question is: “Should journalists become the news?”
Lewis Wallace, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, clarifies the doubt: Yes, “there are times journalists should become the story.” Wallace is right when he says that personal identity and lived experience of a journalist are the part of the debatable issue. Tikoo’s case was not different. Her ‘Kashmiri Pundit’ tag was there to harm her. It did.
I do not think that Tikoo was wrong about Pakistan sponsored terrorism in India. It is, in fact, problematic to see human rights defenders completely omitting this major factor. The separatist ideology, founded on the very principle of militant Islam, is at its peak in the valley; killing of innocent truck drivers is a recent example.
Tikoo’s name is not new to me. I followed Tikoo’s writings for three years. The prominent persons in her circle are Harbir Singh, Tarek Fatah and Bhole Vishwakarma who are truly ‘free radicals’, however, I largely agree with their criticism of Indian communists. But I was wrong when I compared Tikoo with her husband. Unfortunately others are doing the same. This blog is also here to help them.
To help a neophyte understand Aarti Tikoo:
Here are some of the links to my social media posts which may help you digest the truth that Tikoo is a woman of free will.
Against: When Aarti Tikoo’s report was challenged by Afzal Guru’s son
Support: When Aarti Tikoo questioned the extension of SC order on Section 377
Against: ‘Irony and the State of Denial’: “Thomson Reuters ranking India as ‘most dangerous country for women” was dismissed by Tikoo. I also wrote a column challenging Tikoo’s position.
Support: Tikoo’s report about a Srinagar girl who became Kashmir’s first female victim of the stone-pelting cult.
Support: When Tikoo criticised ABVP ‘goons’
Support: When Tikoo was abused by Islamist misogynists and no ‘self-styled’ liberal opposed this.
Way Forward: Agree to disagree. Aarti Tikoo has the right to put her opinion. And, we must respect her position. What do we learn in school? “Kindly maintain decorum in class, or else you won’t be able to understand this topic.”
Suggestion: People like Kavita Krishnan [ read] must not reduce a gritty achiever to a nameless wife of someone. Moreover, a savarna feminist can be rightly criticised for putting two caste names- why not highlight this? Intriguing.