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Caged Kashmiris take to Facebook for protest

Srinagar, March 16, 2013 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, caged in their homes due to curfews, many Kashmiris are taking to social networking sites to express their sentiments. Since the hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru in Tihar jail on February 9, popular social networking site, Facebook, has been flooded with anti-India and pro-freedom status updates from ardent as well as the occasional Kashmiri netizens. Many have posted images of Afzal as their ‘profile pictures’, while the pictures or videos of the protests, killings or curfew are shared frequently by the majority.

On Thursday and Friday when restrictions on movement all across the Kashmir Valley were imposed, the netizens including students, doctors, professors and activists gave vent to their anger through Facebook.

“Curfew, Curfew Go Away, Come Again Another Day, Don’t You know Its Friday, Poor Kashmiri Wants To Pray,” read the status of a Facebook user, Junaid, which was shared by several of his online friends.

The Kashmiri people believe social networking sites are the only safe medium to raise their voices. “Since peaceful protests and demonstrations against India on roads or through other means is not allowed, Facebook, which is available at fingertips to almost all the people especially youth, grabs the protest pie,” Ruwa, an avid Facebook user, told a Srinagar-based daily.

A student of journalism, Ruwa is frequently seen posting on Facebook her views and comments on the prevailing situation. “Oppressed Kashmiris find Facebook as the only medium through which they can raise their voices,” she said.

Apparently sensing the use of Facebook by people for expressing their discontent, the puppet administration jammed internet services in the Valley several times in past one month. First, it remained jammed for nearly four days after the hanging of Afzal Guru while newspapers’ publication was also stopped, and then the second suspension came after the killing of a youth by Indian troops in Baramulla.

The Short Messaging Service (SMS) is already banned for prepaid cell phone users in the entire occupied territory.

Pro-liberation political organizations too have been using the Facebook to propagate their programmes. The Majlis-e-Mushawrat (MMM), a forum of pro-freedom groups – spearheading the protest campaign for the mortal remains of Kashmiri leaders, Muhammad Maqbool Butt and Muhammad Afzal Guru, from New Delhi’s Tihar jail to Kashmir – in its last calendar had asked people to put Afzal’s image as profile picture and “Do Not Forget Martyrs’ Blood” as the status on Facebook.

“The Indian news channels do not report what is happening in Kashmir as a result of which world does not come to know about the real situation here. Like on Wednesday, Indian media reported the killing of five CRPF men in militant attack, but none of them reported the killing of a civilian by CRPF,” Idrees Ahmad, a young government employee from Budgam who uses Facebook, said. “Under such circumstances Facebook helps us to reach the masses. We can let everyone know about how we suffer and what we think,” he added.

The human rights activists working in occupied Kashmir say that the social networks have evolved as popular medium for political campaigning. “More people in Kashmir are educated today and they are effectively using social networks for expressing their political opinions. They share and discuss on Facebook everything that is happening here, as a result every Kashmiri knows about the situation,” Khurram Parvez, a human rights activist, said.

“The government of India tried to snap the internet services, but doing it as a long term measure will not be possible in this age. And the forum provided to people by Facebook and other social networks will determine the response of masses to the prevailing situation in Kashmir,” he added.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Email: info@kmsnews.org
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736

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