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Rival Kashmiri politicians bond over Twitter

Twitter is proving to be more than just a social networking site in Kashmir: it’s bringing politicians, rival or friendly, into closer contact. Peerzada Ashiq reports.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2011 01:29 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

Twitter is proving to be more than just a social networking site in Kashmir: it’s bringing politicians, rival or friendly, into closer contact.

Opponents such as Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, Peoples Conference chief Sajad Lone, a former separatist, and his political-rival sister Shabnum Lone are connected these days through Twitter.

When Congress leader Makhan Lal Fotedar refuted Abdullah’s claim that the Instrument of Accession (by which Kashmir became part of India in 1947) was conditional, the latter received tweeting support from unexpected quarters: slain separatist Abdul Ghani Lone’s lawyer-daughter Shabnum Lone.

Unidentified gunmen killed Lone, a moderate pro-independence leader, in 2002.

“Fotedar (is) suffering from seasonal Kashmir political cramps. This time its Omar blues. Admits Congress confused by his own self contradiction!!” tweeted Shabnum.

Sparring between Abdullah and Sajad, who contested his first election against the National Conference as an independent candidate in 2008 and lost, is routine now.

From food to food for thought, the two leaders are debating through Twitter everyday, unlike the rival politicians of the past.

“@sajadlone which would mean that none of us here are worthy of leading a struggle. We aren’t selfless enough,” wrote Abdullah.

The chief minister’s response came as Sajad threw a Tweet challenge: “@abdullah_omar struggles per se are sacred. People who symbolise a struggle have to be sacred enough.”

However, sometimes rivals agree on issues, and retweets bear that out.

Whether the new medium translates into an electoral message in 2014 remains to be seen.