From Black Day to Byte Wars: Kashmir’s Ongoing Struggle

by Syeda Tahreem Bukhari
27th October is the Black Day in the history of Kashmir marked with 76 years of Indian Illegal Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. India has endeavored to quell the indigenous resistance in Kashmir through a combination of state-backed measures, including covert operations, narcotics trade, and the application of brute military force. The unilateral action by India to tarnish the identity of Kashmir by revocation of Article 370 did not help India achieve its objectives.By hosting the G-20 summit in Srinagar, it tried to create a façade of normalcy in Kashmir. Still, it fears to hold elections in IIOJK. The rise of Hindutva ideology in India under the BJP rule has created division in a society where Hindus are treated as superior beings while Muslims as subordinates. The hate crimes against Muslims in India have risensince BJP rule. Hindutva Watch report also highlights that in the first half year of 2023, there were 255-recorded instances of hate speech gatherings or rallies targeting Muslims across 17 states in India ruled by the BJP. Through media crackdown, the Indian government is trying to silence the sane voices who are critical of Indian government policies towards Kashmir. On the Freedom Press index, India slides from 150 to 161 out of 180 countries. Indian authorities have blocked independent news outlets in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir such as Kashmir Walla. India has blocked access to its website and social media accounts. Through fake social media accounts and news outlets India was involved in propaganda. EU DisinfoLab also highlights how India is using fake social media accounts and websites to strengthen its standing at the international level and isolate Pakistan by instilling anti-Pakistan feelings. The Chinar Corps controversy exposed by the Washington Post also highlights how Indian military personnel were operating fake accounts from Srinagar to portray normalcy in Kashmir by praising the Indian government’s decision to revoke article 370 andIndian armed forces brutalities in IIOJK. These fake accounts were targeting Kashmiri journalists who were critical of Indian government policies towards IIOJK. Their personal information disseminated on social media accounts calling them traitors. In the era of technology, India is using every means to malign Kashmir’s resistance. In pursuit of the right to self-determination granted to Kashmiris by a United Nation Security Council resolution, Pakistan and Azad Kashmir has to fight their case in this era filled with disinformation. They have to deconstruct a narrative India has created through disinformation campaigns. By using social media outlets, we have to reconstruct our narrative. The human element of the conflict needs to be emphasized. We have to be tech-savvy to project our narrative effectively and to fight our case for the right to self-determination. Author is a Research Officer at the Centre for International Strategic Studies AJK.

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir