By Makhdoom Babar (Editor-in-Chief)
The video footage of supposedly Kashmiri militants training in guerrilla outfits often shown on , the International media was actually got prepared by RAW through its media arm ZEE TV and Films Network to create a stereo image of Kashmiri resistance movement, the Daily Mail has learn on authority. According to the Daily Mail findings the footage was actually shot at certain outdoor location near Simla and not in the Indian Occupied Kashmir by the ZEE Films division’s crew. The Indians had embarked upon a strategy well before the September 11, terrorist attacks in the US to hoodwink the world in believing that Kashmiri struggle was merely a terrorism associated problem. It is with this view that they thought to give a graphic interface to their propaganda blitz and shot this footage with actors supporting beards and brandishing automatic assault weapons. The video proved very handy for telecast after various incidences of attacks in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Later this video was also provided to the international media who immediately took the bait by telecasting it on their networks in course of news coverage and documentaries on Kashmir owing to the absence of availability of any such genuine footage.
The findings of Daily Mail further reveal that Indian intelligence agency RAW controls a whole paraphernalia of media network including ZEE TV and Films Network, Asian News International (ANI), as well as some national and regional language newspapers especially in Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil and Kashmiri. The ZEE network retains the pivotal position in this RAW controlled propaganda and misinformation spiral. It was actually RAW that has been the master mind behind the establishment of ZEE Television Network. According to our sources the proposal for establishing a private sector television channel actually under the control of Indian intelligence agency was first presented to the Late Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The proposals could not materialize at that time as Mrs. Gandhi had certain reservations about giving more powers to RAW for she suspected it of being behind her earlier electoral defeat at the hands of another Late Prime Minister of India Mr. Murar ji Desai. However, Indian movie star Amitabh Bachan who was a personal friend of Rajiv Gandhi got the cue. His brother later reportedly siphoned part of the Rs.64 crore kick-backs of the Swedish Bofor guns deal into setting up a private satellite channel by the name of TV Asia.
TV Asia enjoyed certain patronage from Indian government and intelligence agencies though it was financed privately. In return RAW enjoyed certain leverage on TV Asia; nonetheless its officials continued the campaing for having their own channel. The break through was achieved when a high ranking RAW operative Vasant Parekh found a willing partner in the Chairman of Essel Group of Industries, Subash Chandra. The Essel Group was mainly involved in the business of entertainment and amusement parks. Being an adventurous entrepreneur, Chandra indicated his willingness to Vasant Parekh for investing partly in the RAW’s satellite TV venture provided it also shared a big portion investment and backup support. RAW hierarchy did not require much persuasion to dole out a hefty amount of US$ 25 million as an initial participation share in the project. The deal was struck and the ZEE Television Network was formally launched in 1992 with Subhas Chandra as the Chairman and Vasant Parekh as the founding member on its Board of Directors. It was agreed to induct and employ a certain number of RAW operatives in all cadres of the network. RAW personnel were thus recruited amongst the programme producers, anchors, newscasters, and even amongst the marketing and business managers. The arrangement facilitates RAW to send its agents undercover to Pakistan and even other countries. Having a media tag gives these operatives an easy access to cultivate a number of personalities in the target country, which would have been otherwise difficult. The broad outline of the propaganda objectives of ZEE TV defined by RAW were:
- Undermine the ideological frontiers of Pakistan through oft repeated Indian rhetoric of cultural and social uniformity of South Asian sub-continent;
- Malign Pakistan by a deliberate negative projection of the events and developments in the country. The aim was to systematically build a poor image of Pakistan may it be in the context of internal political developments, religious or social events, women issues, child labour, brick kiln workers, Ahmedi or Christian minorities, secretarian clashes, Mohajar ethnic movement, foreign policy or bilateral relations with India. Although human rights violations, social, cultural, religious and economic problems exist at a much gigantic proportion in India these were to be downplayed in Indian context;
- Projection of India as a modern secular and progressive state which is the world’s largest democracy;
- Propagation of India’s foreign policy objectives and its position on Kashmir;
- Promotion of Hindu mythology through serials based on mythology as well as soap operas telecast on the network;
In pursuance of this policy ZEE lays special emphasis in cultivating prominent personalities in Pakistan for accomplishing the ideological agenda. Bigwigs in Pakistani entertainment and show biz, poets, writers, eminent sportsmen and politicians are a prime target. The common modus operandi is that Pakistani celebrities are invited as chief guests or special guests to various ZEE programmes. A lot of praise is showered, calling them artists whose talent is not restricted by any boundary, frontier or divide and that the people of the two countries love each other, only the politicians conspire to keep them separated. Overwhelmed by the tremendous show of hospitality the artist either ends up unwillingly endorsing the host’s views or says something that is construed to be negating the ‘Two Nation’ basis of Pakistan’s independence. According to credible information RAW also sponsors organizing of performances, shooting of videos and securing of contracts for Bollywood movies and entertainment agencies for some of these personalities belonging to the Pakistan entertainment, film and music.
The Daily Mail has learned that RAW’s further tightened its noose on media during the first government of BJP under the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting Parmod Mahajan. RAW had in the meanwhile already taken control of the struggling television news agency Asian News International (ANI) founded by an ambitious cameraman Prem Parakash. When the agency ran into financial troubles RAW came forth to help it with idea of producing South Asia News line which all the Indian entertainment TV Channels not producing their own news bulletins were force to telecast. Parmod reportedly threatened these channels with the sweeping powers under the PRASAR BHARATI (Indian Broadcasting) ACT, 1990 Chapter IV, 23; “Power of Central Government to give Directions” if they did not comply. Even his successor Sushma Swaraj has been calling shots at the media also making coercive use of the draconian Indian National Security Act, 1980. Three Advisory Bodies have been pivotal in this regard to streamli mittee. The DFF amongst other things virtually controls the films dealing with news, current events and documentaries. RAW has a permanent representation on this Committee which can use any pretext to penalize channels not receptive of its directives.
Our correspondent Saira Ilyas adds from London: The enormous success of ZEE in South Asia and Middle East encouraged its sponsors to target the Asian viewers in Britain and Europe. The prime objective was to disillusion the expatriate Pakistanis and Kashmiris from their ideological basis. Britain being the home of largest Kashmiri refugee community outside Asia has become a cause of concern for the Indian establishment. The growing influence of Kashmiri community in the political circles of UK, their frequent protests over the human rights violations in the Indian held Kashmir and demand for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris is often embarrassing for the Indians.
ZEE UK was therefore launched in 1995. The ZEE’s strategists, however, realized that Braitain and Europe was a different ball game. To lure the Pakistani expatriates it was decided to telecast a mix of Indian and Pakistani programmes. It is learnt that a team was sent to Pakistan to negotiate the purchase of PTV programmes for telecast on ZEE UK. ZEE was able to procure from the PTV library many classical dramas, the most recent hit telecasts, musical programs, special occasions telecasts for Eid, Muharam, Ramadan including and other purely Islamic religious programs. These programs were reportedly sold to the ZEE at throw away prices. The PTV establishment of the time credited itself for having sold the programmes with no other clientele. Little did they know the diabolic use that ZEE had planned for these programs. However, PTV authorities maintain that some of its programs were recorded off air by a Lahore based spurious company and sold to ZEE TV. Subsequently PTV obtained a court injunction to stop ZEE from telecast of some of its programs. Nonetheless this gap is now filled by the private productions that have mushroomed in Pakistan over the last few years.
The ZEE UK program managers ran an extra-mile in their endeavours to establish it as a neutral TV of the entire South Asian community in Europe. The propaganda against Pakistan was deliberately kept sublime in the initial year of its launching. However, it continued its policy of reporting negative developments in respect of Pakistan and black outing positive aspects may it be as non political news as winning a cricket match by Pakistan. Nonetheless, ZEE’s one sided hype during events such as the Kargil conflict gave away any semblance of neutrality that the channels had been portraying. The propaganda blitz unleashed by ZEE since the take over by the BJP appointed RAW administration has exposed the real face of the channel.ne the Indian governments propaganda campaign; the Central Press Accreditation Committee (PIB), Film Advisory Committee (DFF) and Hindi Advisory Committee
It is popularly believed in the South Asian community in UK that ZEE-RAW nexus was fully unveiled during the RAW staged hijacking drama of an Indian airliner in December 1999. Throughout the hijacking drama ZEE newscasters and expert panelists many among whom were actually undercover RAW officials, continued to narrate RAW orchestrated script like parrots in an unbelievable frenzy. ZEE was further exposed by completely biased reporting following the RAW staged spate of attacks in India after September11 such as the attack on the sham State Assembly of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian Parliament, US Consulate Calcutta as well as the present border standoff between Pakistan and India. Even many Indian origin UK nationals are now relying on PTV Prime and ARY to get a clear picture of the events.
RAW prolific media network however received a setback when its sponsored Reminisce Television Network (RTN) could not succeed in UK and Europe. The free to air transmission of RTN’s Channel Asia 1 could not get enough advertisements due to over crowding of the market by many Asian Channels. The RTN also had an Urdu Channel ANJUMAN to target Pakistani viewers besides Gujarati, Lashkara (Punjabi), Bengali and other regional language channels. RAW is now concentrating on ZEE and SONY Entertainment Television (SET).