Mirwaiz Spells Out Social Media Strategy

Mirwaiz Spells Out Social Media Strategy

6 April 2013
Rising Kashmir
Mark Mistry

Srinagar: Admitting that strikes hurt Kashmiris, Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has hinted at reduction in hartals and for the first time outlined social media strategy as ‘focus of resistance movement’. “I think social media is very important and is going to be the focus of the resistance movement. Using the Kashmiri diaspora, we are going to have an IT cell outside Kashmir with servers and regular updates on websites and Facebook,” Mirwaiz said in an interview conducted at his Nigeen residence. He said in the coming 2-3 months, “You will see an increase in online activity.” “It is not possible for us to have our own IT system to reach out to the masses because the bandwidth and licences are controlled by the State. The moment something happens, the first thing they do is breakdown the communication networks. If dissent through social media is not allowed then what kind of democracy and freedom of expression do we have?” On hartals, the Hurriyat (M) chief said: “We understand they hurt mostly the Kashmiris because our businesses are down. However, there has to be an act of defiance. Consider the fact that all leadership is under house arrest. We haven’t been able to connect with the masses. Hartal is the only alternative until the leadership is out. We have given a call for Saturday and now you will see it will have a much bigger effect than last Thursday.” A strike called last Thursday by Muthida Majlis-e-Mashawrat (MMM), an umbrella group of separatists seeking return of Afzal Guru’s remains, witnessed partial response. “In a sense, people may have the fear that these hartals will continue for a long time. We have told them it will be once a week, or once in two weeks,” Mirwaiz said. He admitted that they have started to have a rethink over possible ways and means. “We have started to approach the international community, and we will be writing to EU, OIC, UN and the Human Rights Council. We have asked our representatives in London, Brussels and Geneva to take up the issue. The problem is that there are limited alternatives.” Taking a dig at J&K Assembly and Government of India (GoI), the former for its weakness over issues such as return of Afzal Guru’s remains and the latter for its inability to understand frustration caused by its policies in Kashmir, Mirwaiz said, “The biggest blunder by GoI is that it is pushing youth to the corner by disallowing democratic consent. Among the youth in Kashmir there is hatred towards India, not just a disconnect, and that is growing.”