New Delhi: As Jammu and Kashmir transitioned from a state into two Union Territories, 88 days after the Centre suddenly announced its decision, radio stations in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh were renamed ‘All India Radio, Jammu’; ‘All India Radio, Srinagar’; and ‘All India Radio, Leh’.
All India Radio’s Kashmir stations, at Srinagar and Jammu, had until now been called ‘Radio Kashmir’. They have, however, been a part of the AIR since the 1950s.
The move has garnered support from several on social media, while others pointed out the explicit note of erasure in such a renaming.
Journalist Rahul Pandita wrote on Twitter that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had, in as early as 1966, asked why AIR’s station was called ‘Radio Kashmir’.
On Nov 29, 1966, Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked a question in Rajya Sabha about whether All India Radio’s Kashmir station is called “Radio Kashmir”.
On the first day of Jammu and Kashmir as UT, it has been renamed All India Radio, Srinagar. pic.twitter.com/Ex8htG2Hy8
— Rahul Pandita (@rahulpandita) October 31, 2019
Pandita’s tweet was retweeted by Prasar Bharati’s official account.
Neither the culture of renaming, nor the fast-tracked necessity to subsume all that is Kashmiri into the mainland national trope is new for the current dispensation.
Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was taken away with the reading down of Article 370 on the same day when the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, was brought and passed in parliament.
ThePrint had reported in August on Prasar Bharati mulling such a name change.
Rajesh Bhat, a former employee of Radio Kashmir and author of the book Radio Kashmir: In Times of Peace & War, told the news portal that the radio stations in Kashmir had a strategic cause — “to counter Pakistan’s propaganda and broadcast Indian information.” The report further says:
“…The first station was set up on 1 December 1947 in Jammu by the state government soon after the Instrument of Accession was signed. Its purpose was to counter malicious anti-India propaganda launched from radio stations based in PoK — such as Azad Kashmir Radio Trarkhal and Azad Kashmir Radio Muzaffarabad, among others.”
Incidentally, in the unprecedented communication clampdown that followed the Centre’s announcement in August 5, Kashmiris had to largely resort to the age-old radio in order to remain aware of goings on.
This is the first time a state has been downsized into Union Territories in India.
Girish Chandra Murmu in Jammu and Kashmir and Radha Krishna Mathur in Ladakh have become the first lieutenant governors of the new UTs.