Opinion: Social Media emerging challenge for administration in Kashmir

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By Fast Kashmir on 18/07/2018.

Opinion: Social Media emerging challenge for administration in Kashmir

Bilal Bashir Bhat

Srinagar, Jul 18: Aimed to improve sense of connectedness the social media has undoubtedly broken all the barriers of miscommunication with everyone having at least one social media account. Social media interaction takes many different forms including blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, micro blogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social gaming, social networks, video sharing, and virtual worlds whereas different technologies like the telegraph and telephone are also counted as social media.

In our part of the world, i.e. in Kashmir despite the sporadic internet, the use of social media is considered as only means of entertainment, as a result it has drew a major impact on every individual’s life and on corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, social groups, political parties, and government as well.

The general political awareness of the Kashmiri youth is very high. They not only access multiple channels of communication to get news but also have set up their own news dissemination sources  in form of news portals, blogs and social media pages particularly on Facebook.

The use of expressing opinion or statement is not only limited to members of public, but also used widely by the leadership. Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are among the top leaders who use social media to communicate with people.

Over the years the social media in Kashmir is used as a tool to express the ‘sentiments’ on different occasions. Though the successive government and security agencies left no stone unturned to curb the social media but failed to do so. In 2016 during the public uprising post Burhan Wani killing, the government put a blanket ban on social media sites. The social media ban turned out to be a colossal failure. Most Kashmiri users switched on to Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps to overcome the ban and what came as a real surprise was that the Who’s Who of Kashmir were all leading a busy social media life throughout the ban.

Last month, the Inspector General of Police Kashmir S P Pani during a presser alleged that a Srinagar resident based in Pakistan had started an online campaign against the slain noted journalist, Syed Shujaat Bukhari.

“Minutes before his assassination, Shujaat called me from Srinagar and advised me to take care as the campaign against us from fake social media accounts was getting shriller. His voice was wobbly, so I asked him to call later in the night to discuss in detail. Barely 20 minutes later, news of his cold-blooded murder started flashing. Those who had engineered the campaign may not have executed his assassination, but their hands are equally soaked in his blood,” journalist Iftikhar Gilani had wrote.

The militant outfits using social media is now common in Kashmir, most recently a scholar turned militant Manan Wani shot an email to a reputed news agency to deliver his message, the ‘message’ was published however police terming it as ‘propaganda material’ registered FIR against the news agency thus forcing him to put down the article.

Pertinently, since the start of militancy in Kashmir Valley, media houses have been carrying the press releases of militant organizations but this is for the first time that police have objected and have decided to initiate legal proceedings, as such journalist fraternity has expressed anguish and described the police action as direct attack on the freedom of press. They have threatened to hit to roads against such curbs.

Moreover, videos capturing atrocities and human rights violations of Kashmiris including crushing of youths by a government forces vehicle in downtown Srinagar at Safa Kadal and Nowhatta, have dominated the narrative this year and using human shield last year proved to be a major headache for the administration.

Pertinently, in March this year, Security agencies in Jammu & Kashmir told the central government that social media is the main source used for “radicalisation” of youth.

In nutshell, the people especially youth will continue to express opinions and sentiments on social media, the time demands instead of curbing the social media and attacking on freedom of expression there is high need to address the issues pertaining to Kashmir over the decades which is resulting in large scale destruction of life and properties. (KNB)