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J&K cops crack down on ‘anti-India’ FB pages

Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a major crackdown against social networking users who express pro-independence or anti-India sentiments in the state.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2012 00:15 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times

Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a major crackdown against social networking users who express pro-independence or anti-India sentiments in the state.

Around 35 administrators of Facebook pages have been identified by the police and several were summoned to police stations and questioned.

"We are looking at people who express certain kind of sentiment on the Internet, which can cause disturbances. A few were questioned too," Kashmir inspector general of police Shiv Murari Sahai told the Hindustan Times.

Hundreds of Facebook sites and pages sprung up immediately after the five-month long civil unrest, which hit the valley in 2010. The tensions was stoked by thbegan after the death of a school boy in police firing on June 11 2010 and the subsequent violent protests left 113 civilians dead.

The Facebook pages like Saang Baze-e-Kashmir, Stone Pelters and Aalaw immediately became a big hit with hundreds of users expressing their vitriolic feelings on it, mainly against the security forces and political situation of the state.

The social networking sites emerged as a main platform in 2010 to curfew and hartal-bound people. Over the period of time, many sites openly advocated freedom for Kashmir.

"We are trying to counsel the users. We will see if we need to take legal course in some cases," said Sahai.

According to the survey report, 'A perception survey of media impact on the Kashmiri youth', conducted by Institute for Research on India and International Studies (IRIIS) and funded by Union home ministry, there was growing influence of social networking sites in the valley.

According to the survey, youth in the valley have "firmly fixed their political gaze on local developments" and are actively participating in Kashmir-related discussions on as many as 317 pages on Facebook.

The IRIIS findings suggest that 238 anti-India Facebook pages have been set up that predominantly contain words like Free Kashmir, Freedom and Quit Kashmir.

At least 101 Facebook accounts have the word "free", 11 contain "freedom", nine contain "independent/independence", 25 contain "quit" and 34 contain "Leave".

On the other hand, only 26 pro-India accounts have been listed in the IRIIS findings, while 53 accounts have been found to be "pro-Kashmir".

The police crackdown has come in the backdrop of the recent report. Sources said two dozen youth have been quizzed so far for "instigating masses and whipping anti-national sentiment".

The police’s cyber cell has acquired sophisticated internet Protocol tools to trace the people uploading objectionable content on Facebook and other social networking sites.

The police lookout for such users is on in Srinagar, which witnessed massive street protests in 2010, and north Kashmir’s sensitive areas like Sopore and Baramulla.

In 2010, the police detained three members of the social networking pages, Aalaw page and Frontline Kashmir. Among the arrested, there were many students from upper middle class. Several have been sent outside the state by parents for studies now and to escape police reprimand.

Police believe there were 2,000 pages containing 'anti-India' content available on the net.

First Published: Apr 14, 2012 18:42 IST