Mapping the Online Kashmir

​Digital Activism and Cultural Resistance

The communication void created in the Kashmir valley in August 2019 ironically became the medium for Kashmiris to reclaim their history and memorialise their suffering.

On the midnight of 4 August 2019, the Indian government enforced a complete information blackout in Kashmir. As phone lines were snapped and the internet disconnected, Kashmiris outside the region gathered on social media for solace amidst snatches of information. In the dystopian weeks and months that followed, letters were written to families and dispatches from the ground carried to Delhi on USB devices. Slowly, the means of communication were restored—landlines first, then cell phones, and finally 2G internet, a full eight months later. High-speed internet has still not been restored. In a populace raised on paranoia, the hush that spread has left severe trauma in its wake, which many continue to recount a year since.

On the morning of 5 August, Twitter users showed how the life, sanity and dignity of millions in Kashmir was just a game: #KashmirHamarahai, #KashmirParFinalFight, #KashmirOperations, and #KashmirFinalSolution were trending. By mid-morning, Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated and the state bifurcated into union territories. Although, arguably, an empty shell at this point, the token constitutional provision that remained had carried emotional associations. Many Kashmiris felt a sense of personal hurt as right-wing groups in India took to rejoicing the abrogation. The act signalled yet another betrayal by the Indian government. Its execution stripped Kashmiris of their agency. It took away consent and silenced a population with lies, forcing them into psychological, communication, and economic perdition. Television channels continued what can only be termed a charade and mockery. Kashmiri newspapers printed a few leaflets—silenced, they most usefully announced cancelled weddings.

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Updated On : 30th Aug, 2020

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