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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Politicking hots up on cyber world in Kashmir

Peerzada Ashiq , Hindustan Times  Srinagar, March 24, 2013
First Published: 18:07 IST(24/3/2013) | Last Updated: 19:38 IST(24/3/2013)

Both mainstream and separatist political parties in Kashmir are using social networking sites to reach out to their constituencies and propagate their agenda. While the opposition PDP organised Facebook fans' meeting, hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani rode YouTube waves with a speech made in detention.

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The PDP, the state's largest opposition, organised first meeting with the party's Facebook fans, earned after hundreds of updates and party videos for several months now, on Saturday.

The meeting of around 80 netizens was held at PDP president Mehbooba Mufti's residence of Fair View in Srinagar. The meeting being held at the highest party level shows how serious the PDP is taking the social networking space in the state, which is politically fractured into the mainstream and separatist constituencies.

"The social networking sites are providing us with an opportunity to interact with people," PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar told the Hindustan Times.

Sensing an opportunity to reach out to these netizens - who comprised students, businessman, etc., from different districts of the Kashmir region --- Mehbooba and Akhtar made a power-point presentation on the party's self-rule document, which is the PDP's vision to resolve the protracted Kashmir issue.

"These netizens are highly political and feel for people of the state and its future and the PDP believes in debate and interaction. It was not a membership drive," said Akhtar.
Buoyed by the online response for netizens' meeting with the PDP president, the party is planning to repeat such exercises in Jammu region too. "We do see them (netizens) as prospective voters and stakeholders," said Akhtar.

The PDP has formed a separate cell to handle the Facebook pages created across the constituencies.

The PDP interaction came on a day when Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who remains under house arrest since execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, addressed the youth by uploading his speech on social networking sites of YouTube and Facebook.

The Hurriyat had several days before announced the live video on networking sites with timing slotted for prime time 8pm for maximum reach.

"I with firm determination attribute the bright future to our youth and I with humble request demand from them that they with all their passion, aspiration, determination and commitment should come forward and carry the ongoing movement forward," said Geelani in his 13-minute speech with the frame carrying two blue and green stripped flags with crescent marked on it.
Around 13,000 netizens viewed it on the YouTube and many supporters shared it on the Facebook to spread it among netizens.

The Hurriyat says Geelani made the move after the state police foiled his attempts to reach out to people by confining him to his Srinagar residence since Guru's hanging.

A posse of police continues to guard Geelani's residence and is not allowed him to make any speeches or attended Friday congregation.

Geelani's statement on Afzal Guru in chaste Urdu evoked a long timeline of comments within minutes.


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