Posted Fri, 08/06/2010 – 16:36
IANS, Aug 6, 2010,
SRINAGAR: The streets of Kashmir Valley are not the only places burning with angry protests over the civilian killings. The rage has also spilled over into the virtual world where youngsters are venting their pent up sentiments.
Youngsters aged 15-25 are using their personal or community internet pages to express their anger against what they see as human rights abuses. Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, YouTube and many such web platforms have turned into a new battleground for the angry young generation of the valley.
With nearly 50 people dying in less than seven weeks – most of them in firing by security forces – many such voices are proliferating on the internet.
“I Protest”, a community page created by an unknown user, has over 2,500 members — Kashmiris as well as non-Kashmiris. It is described as “a campaign for international awareness against human rights abuse in Indian Kashmir.”
The page says, “I protest for being treated as a commodity, for being a slave in the dawn of the 21st century; I protest to be killed for protesting against abuse and basic human rights.”
A user status on the “I Protest” page reads, “This brutal government has failed to communicate with people and done nothing to stop this unabated genocide. The government which came to power with high hopes has no right to be there, sadly lost its support & confidence. Shame on them.”
A similar page, “I protest against the atrocities on Kashmiris,” has over 2,100 members. “Kashmir Dispatch” that serves more like a news portal giving one line updates about the current situation, protests and news photographs has over 5,000 members.
The virtual protesters have not spared Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. A page, “We hate Omar Abdullah…A politically immature person!,” has nearly 1,500 members.
Zahra IV, a user, poses a rhyme of a question for the chief minister on the site. “What do you feel when you see young boys dying on the street? Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep? What do you feel when you look in the mirror? Are you proud? How do you sleep while the rest of us cry? How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye (to her son)? How do you walk with your head held high? Can you even look me in the eye? And tell me why?”
The virtual rebellion of angry Kashmiris is also directed at Hurriyat separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and others for their “failure to deliver”
“Internet is an important tool. The youth of Kashmir are expressing dissent through all the means and tools at their disposal,” said Zamir Tajammul Qadri, 22, who uses an iPhone to update his status throughout the day.
“The young generation of online rebels should be an eye-opener for the tech-savvy young chief minister. He should be, and I am sure he is, reading all this. He was supposed to connect with the constituency of youngsters and this shows he has failed utterly,” Qadri said.
While the online protests have been peaceful, on the streets the story has been different. The unrest shows no signs of relent, authorities have clamped down on stone-pelting protestors, arresting dozens and putting the entire valley under curfew.
Despite restrictions and shoot-at-sight orders, men, women and children have been taking to the streets. Kashmir, where a bloody 20-year-old separatist war had shown signs of abating only last year, is on the edge once again.