Foreign Correspondents abuse Indian hospitality, host Mirwaiz
by Sandhya Jain on 02 Dec 2010 13 Comments

In an extremely provocative intervention in India’s internal affairs, the Delhi-based Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia invited Kashmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq for an exclusive interaction with foreign journalists, dis-inviting even the Indian media, which stood outside the venue and covered the protest by agitated nationalists, including members of the ousted Kashmiri Pandit community.


The writer and Smt. Nancy Kaul, convener, Daughters of Vitasta (an organisation of the ousted Pandit community), managed to enter the main gate of the Mathura Road venue, but were soon hustled out by a formidable lady who was checking each and every person against a typed list. She insisted firmly that the event was only for foreign correspondent members of the club, and so we were soon out.


The FCC management claimed that the meeting was organised so that journalists working for foreign media could hear the Hurriyat chairman, who has invited public ire across the nation on account of his demands for independence. It claimed the event was only for select invitees.

That this was not entirely true can be seen from the fact that a representative of the Pakistan High Commission was allowed to attend the meeting, even though he was not on the list of invitees. It seems the gentleman arrived at the club premises, identified himself and requested to be allowed in. One of the organisers told the policemen manning the gate to let him in (Times of India, Dec. 1, 2010).


Thus it was a cozy monotheistic wake, with the dominant white Christian correspondents of former (and wanna be again) colonial powers patronizing and encouraging a Sunni Muslim Kashmiri separatist in the hope of further partitioning India, to secure a space wherein to plant more military bases to complete the quest for domination of Central Asia and the Gulf region, and extraction of their natural resources. Doubtless the fact that Umer is married to an American citizen of Kashmiri origin, Sheeba Masoodi, would have endeared him to his audience.


This assessment was soon vindicated. A foreign journalist who learnt of the protest against Mirwaiz came out to ask the reasons for the anger. [BJP youth cadres had clambered on to Umer Farooq’s car and shouted slogans as he was entering the building; police arrested two busloads of them].


-          First tell us which country you are from [I said].

-          Spain.

-          Well, Spain is today a democracy, but how would you like it if we came to your country and invited the followers of General Franco to legitimize his philosophy again? Would it not be offensive? You are abusing our hospitality. This is the only country which gives so much freedom, I am sure the decision to call this man has been taken by the journalists from Britain and America, who are still dreaming of dominating the world… At least Europe should not do this, now that you are trying to break away from the Anglo-American domination…

He beat a hasty retreat. We could not even begin to talk about Basque separatists!


We then waited for the function to be over, to protest again when Mirwaiz left the venue. By this time, the police were reinforced by a strong contingent of the CRPF and so nothing untoward happened while he left. Some eggs pelted on his car missed the target, but the protestors made up with lusty slogans: Bharat Mata ji jai, Vande Mataram …


Now an old white man walked idly towards us ladies and said:


-          What is all this about?

-          Which media do you represent?  

-          Fortune magazine.

-          Well, in that case, the Americans and the British need to know that you are sinking economically, politically, geo-strategically, and you can forget about regaining the world dominion. Do you guys think we will let you divide our country again, get yourself a military base, and re-colonize the world again? Your governments are using you…

He gave us a cussed, dour look, turned and departed. Real white s@@t.


He was followed by a young man from the Christian Science Monitor, another very rabid American organization. He said:


-          This man has spoken at two other venues [Chandigarh, Kolkata], what is all the protest about?

-          Do you know how high sentiments are running in this country against this man and the separatist agenda, which is being backed and supported by your governments of America and Britain? The journalists of these countries have organized this on the behest of the governments, to divide our country again.

-          We have a free press…

-          Cut the crap. We know how your system works, democracy only a form of government, a show, everything run by the Corporates, and now Wikileaks is exposing how everything runs… Do you think we are fools? You guys are sinking, so get real, and understand that you are not going to divide our country again; we are on to you. They have been pelting stones for four months, thinking something will happen when Obama comes…

-          [Grin] I didn’t hear Obama say anything about Kashmir

-          Yes, that is because our Prime Minister handled him nicely, and now you are trying to undo that by stirring up fresh trouble, and you can forget about it.

He scooted.


New Delhi needs to do something to discourage such blatant meddling in the internal affairs of this country. Since India allows foreign journalists to travel freely in Jammu and Kashmir, there is nothing to stop any and all foreign correspondents from talking to separatists in the Valley, hence there was simply no justification for giving him a politically loaded platform like the Foreign Correspondents Club in the capital. We need to be less tolerant and cooperative with such supercilious and officious bodies; many journalists probably double up as intelligence workers, as American diplomats did, as revealed by the latest Wikileaks documents.


New Delhi should make an example of the FCC managing committee by denying extension of visas for stay in India. This would go a long way in ensuring better behaviour in future.


The writer is Editor,

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