The story starts from early spring of March 2009 when a few online activists assembled to start a #FreeFaizan campaign. The campaign was initiated by the most influential Kashmir blogger ~K along with many other bloggers who had found new space on Twitter. The campaign was a massive success with Amnesty International joining the campaign for the release of Faizan Hakeem a minor who was detained by Indian occupation. Amnesty International later called it ‘ When a tweet can change the world‘. It was a significant moment as it set the foundation for the new-age Kashmiri activism online.
Before Twitter became part of the armory of the resistance movement online. Many Kashmiris raised their voices in the form of blogs and forums. Among them ~K, Saadut aka Ibnebattuta, Sameer Bhat, Baba Umar, Kashmir: Truth to be told, Faizan Ali, the author of this blog among few others were read widely.
One of the bloggers called Barzul (who later deleted his blog and Twitter after he found his calling in the Occupation politics) who was the President of World Kashmiri Student Association from 2007 when it was initiated to raise the right to self determination of Kashmiris all over the world. His posts damning the occupation manifested into protests on the ground which he led during the historical UN march in Srinagar, 2008. His petition seeking support of Syed Ali Shah Geelani to accept WKSA as part of the Hurriyat platform was signed by many Kashmiris.
In 2008, Barzul became Gupkar and was part of the Omar Abdullah entourage who was heading Kashmir administration. After some disagreements with Omar, he left his entourage. Later going on to join Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference which he later left, only to join National Conference. Today he’s the spokesperson of the same party that he damned in his posts and speaking for the Tyrant who he condemned.
So when he trolled IbneBattuta, an influential twitter activist (after he was deputed to head the IT department in the grievance cell) it was like a welcoming of turncoats.
Here’s the catch, the way pro Indian collaborators have trolled IbneBattuta, they have tried to make it seem like IbneBattuta was ‘Geelani of Twitterosphere’ for Kashmiris. That notion has been filled with so much air as if to make it seem like his deputation to a government department amounts to treachery.
It is aimed to weaken the very influential and brilliant Kashmiri tweeple who have run scores of daring and brilliant campaigns to amplify the voices on the ground to the entire world.
Over the years Kashmiris on Twitter have been covered by BBC, Al Jazeera and many other international agencies. So there was no space for such political opportunists to broadcast their views.
The consequences of such campaigns has manifested into a Cyber Cell (housed in the infamous Torture Camp) which puts entire Cyberspace used by Kashmiris under surveillance. For example, arrest of Whatsapp Group admins or witchhunt against YouTubers who upload graphic videos of violence against Kashmiris by Indian forces. These all undemocratic and increasingly authoritative initiatives were led by the Chief Twitter Troll Omar Abdullah.
There are two things that I would want to convey in this blog.
One is that this vile and vicious campaign to discredit the politically aware resistance on Twitter as ‘phony’ because of their offline lives. Yes, each person who speaks for a Free and Independent Kashmir has his view and a voice which is amplified on such online platforms. But one shouldn’t forget that they are leading their normal lives too. That tweets don’t feed their families or employ them. It’s their way of broadcasting their personal ideals which they wish to share with the world.
But not when they become part of the state’s ability of calling shots or when they become public relations agents for their war crimes.
It doesn’t mean that they are leaders of the movement but their opinions are shared by many of us. If it weren’t so, Ibnebattuta wouldn’t have been an influential opinion leader online that the former subcontractor of the occupation, Omar Abdullah would troll him. This means that those who broadcast views against the occupation are powerful and they are brilliant in their ways of damning Indian propaganda in Kashmir. At the same time when they jump ship, they are also sent to the pits of collaboration and boycott.
Two is that this vicious campaign which has found takers in many journalists, those who claim to be journalists and self appointed distributors of character certificates. Now they are trying to what they always wanted to do, to spitefully demean the amplifiers of Kashmir voices. One needs to be careful of these people, some of whom have led earlier campaigns to character assassinate Kashmiris like the infamous girl band stories.
If anyone jumps ship and betrays the cause. They no longer belong to it. Simple as that. They can’t speak for us any longer.
The best thing that has come out of this mudslinging is that the Kashmiri youth have reached a level where the movement is bigger than individuals. This shock absorbing quality needs to be strengthened with patience and calmness.
Our destiny is the freedom of our land. A land free from those who strengthen its occupation and oppression. Last but not least, never take an advice from tyrant or his band of men who kill and justify it in 140 characters.
Free Kashmir. A promise. Insha Allah.