Kulgam clashes go ‘live’ on Facebook in volatile Kashmir Valley
A video starts with sounds of gunfire. The voice of the narrator, his hand and the camera shaking, says “Aap ye dekh sakte hain goliyan kaise chal rahi hai. Civilians apni jaan bacha rahe hain… Ek bhaai ko goli lagi hai (You can see bullets are being fired. Civilians are running for their lives…one brother has been hit).”
The killing of four alleged militants in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district triggered a wave of protest in the area on Sunday.
Videos of these clashes at Frisal in Kulgam — marked by firing of bullets and tear gas shells — were virtually broadcast on Facebook in real time .
In another video, youths are seen washing away blood from the road and the narrator explains that it was the blood of civilians. “Ye hum India ko kehna chahte hai ki kaisa zulm kar rahe hain Kashmiri bhaaio ke saath…Meherbani karke is video ko share kariye (We want to tell India about the kinds of atrocities we are being subjected to…Please share this video).”
Another video captures a young man screaming that he is hit by a bullet. Others rush forward to help him. The videos appear to be uploaded on Sunday afternoon, almost the same time that the events were happening.
However, they appear to be simultaneously uploaded on multiple profiles, making the uploader difficult to trace.
Kashmiri social media observers say this is the first instance of a proliferation of videos from a protest.
Moreover, they note that this is one of the first intense clashes in the last eight months during which the mobile internet curb, which began on July 8 after the killing of Burhan Wani, has been completely lifted.
Although post-paid mobile internet services were restored in November, pre-paid services were restored on January 30.
“Going ‘Live’ on social media – with video and commentary – has become a trend among youngsters. So, perhaps, protesters might have thought why not capture the clashes. In this way, if collected, a lot of never-seen-before kind of visuals could emerge of clashes that take place in the Valley,” a senior journalist said.