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#NayaKashmir: Fake profiles emerge on Twitter, promote ‘development’ in Kashmir that ‘doesn’t exist’

One year past the Abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, and the reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, not much has changed in the valley, except for the worse.

The ruling regime had promised that the laws were a hindrances in the way of “development” in Kashmir, and their abbrogation would somehow turn Kashmir’s fate around.

In last one year, however, there have been 133 Cordon and search operations and 88 gun-battles in Kashmir, the data collected by Kashmir’s prominent human rights organization, Jammu and Kashmir Coalation of Civil Society (JKCCS) revealed.

JKCCS released a yearly report highlighting the human rights violations that took place in the valley from August 2019-August 2020. As per the report, 346 killings have taken place since last August, of which 73 are civilians, 76 are the armed forces and 197 are of militants. The human rights group highlighted that there has been no decline in violence since last year.

Local trade bodies have said that the promised development does not exist, on the contrary, businesses are facing losses.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) has said that Kashmir’s economy has suffered a whopping Rs 40,000 crore losses mainly due to extension of lockdowns which Kashmir is facing since August 2019.

While development, stressed upon by Modi-led regime, remains elusive, and employment remains an all time low, seemingly paid twitter handles have mushroomed, that peddle a fake narrative of development.

These accounts have been vigorously tweeting the “developments” that have taken place in the valley in past one year with the hashtag #NayaKashmir.

As per Clarion India the propaganda came to light when a twitter handle by the name of “Fact Check Kashmir” started a thread exposing these fake profiles that sprung out of the blue, ahead of August 5.

At the time of publishing of this article, the number of profiles enlisted in the thread stood at 34 of which one profile was impersonating a Sikh man while the rest of profiles had Muslim names.

Google’s Reverse Image Search, revealed that the display pictures that these profiles used were top searches for keywords like—kashmiri, muslim, handsome boy, cute girl, while some of the handles went a step ahead, using pictures of real Kashmiris with fake names.

The profile by the name of Rukhsana used a photograph of a 2018 class ten topper of Kashmir as her display picture. Mehvish Showkat from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district had topped the board exams in 2018. Her photograph was downloaded from a news website and put as a display for Rukhsana.

Another account that goes by the name of Arif Khan and claims to be a “Kashmiri student” is using a Kashmiri journalist Jibran Nazir’s photo as his profile picture.

Jibran Nazir took to twitter and wrote, “some recently-made profiles are using my picture as their DP, peddling fake news about Kashmir.”

Ever since the abrogation, the Government of India has been passing legislations that many say are ‘aimed at curbing the rights of Kashmiris’.

The new legislations include, the domicile laws that allows outsiders to settle in Kashmir, the new media policy, or the one that gives the Indian Army more building rights in “strategic areas”.

These laws are being seen as anti-people.

The mineral extraction contracts in Kashmir too have been passed on to non-Kashmiri contractors, without seeking environment clearance.

In just the first seven months of 2020, more than 50 properties were damaged in gunfights and cross border firing.

Besides, the internet blockade that started in Kashmir in August last year and lasted 175 days is one of the longest internet shutdowns in the history of the world. Even now, a year later, the internet is partially restored with 4G ban still in effect.

Meanwhile, the #NayaKashmir being shared on twitter by fake handles remains far from the reality on the ground.

 

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