For decades, India is trying to hide what is happening in Kashmir. Since 1947, it has worked hard to change the reality with regards to Kashmir. It has sought to muffle Kashmiri voices speaking out against the oppression of the Kashmiri people and whitewash its crimes.
With the advent of social media, Kashmiris found a much-needed platform for free expression where they were able to share their plight with the world. Kashmiri solidarity pages proliferated and conversations about the Kashmiri struggle moved online. But this newly found freedom did not last long.
Social media platforms, under the pressure of the Indian government, started shutting down Kashmir-related pages and the accounts of Kashmiri activists. In 2016, amid a crackdown on protests in Kashmir, Facebook took down pages focusing on Kashmir and posts about the ongoing events. Journalists reported that videos of police brutality were blocked. Academics and intellectuals also saw their accounts disabled.
Following the Indian government’s abrogation of Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, and the imposition of a brutal lockdown, social media platforms were quick to censor content on Kashmir once again. As Kashmir was cut off from the world, with the internet and mobile communications suspended, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter started to remove posts, block videos and shut down accounts trying to shed light on the dire situation in the region.
Since then, the Indian government has partially lifted the lockdown on Kashmir, but social media platforms have continued to purge Kashmir-related content. By removing content and accounts critical of India’s policies in Kashmir, Facebook and Twitter are complicit in suffocating those Kashmiri voices that are resisting the military occupation and settler-colonialism of their land. By censoring these voices, social media networks are curtailing the right to freedom of speech. Pakistan has always tried to give voice to what all Kashmiris are thinking. Freedom is the right of every Kashmiri and by silencing their voices this right can’t be denied.