#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Opinionated Kashmiris forced to delete Twitter handles — tweets posted on Mehbooba’s feed claim

File photo of former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti | PTI

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New Delhi: A series of Twitter posts by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s account has accused the Srinagar cyber police cell of forcing opinionated Kashmiri youths to delete their accounts on the microblogging site.

The verified Twitter handle of Mehbooba Mufti, who has been under detention under the Public Safety Act, is operated by her daughter Iltija.

The tweets posted from the handle claimed that the young, educated and opinionated Kashmiris, mostly male users, were being summoned by the “notorious” cyber cell and forced to delete their Twitter accounts.

“Curious case of K twitter. Young, educated & opinionated Kashmiris on Twitter have suddenly disappeared from the platform. Apparently, most male users were summoned by the notorious Cyber Cell in Srinagar, forced to delete their accounts & sign ‘bonds’ promising ‘good behaviour’,” said one of the posts.

The former CM, who is also the Peoples Democratic Party chief, has been in detention since 5 August 2019 when the central government scrapped Article 370 in J&K. Iltija has been operating her account since September last year “with due authorisation”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Cyber cell in-charge, Superintendent of Police Tahir Ashraf, meanwhile told ThePrint that her allegation of “thought policing” of Kashmiris is baseless. “This is wrong. These allegations are baseless and nothing of this sort has happened here.”

Also read: Mehbooba Mufti’s detention under PSA extended by 3 months

‘Thought policing will backfire’ 

Using her mother’s Twitter account, Iltija said the context of “good behaviour” on the platform is “conforming to admin’s fake narrative of normalcy instead of throwing light on ground realities”.

While male users were summoned by the cyber cell, one of her posts said, women have got calls from their employers and been given an “ultimatum” to delete their accounts.

“Surely a cowardly tactic to blackmail women,” she added.

She also said “thought policing” will only “backfire” as the space given to the people of the Valley to express themselves is “shrinking”.

“With every passing day, the space to people of J&K to express their thoughts is shrinking. Thought policing will only backfire because you are pushing young people to the wall & punishing them even when they use words & harmless humour, memes etc to vent their feelings,” she wrote.

Senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar, who had been detained for 11 months under the PSA after Article 370 was revoked, told ThePrint that this move of forcing the Kashmiri youth to delete Twitter accounts is not “surprising”.

“I have seen reports on the cyber cell summoning young Kashmiris. The government wants to control everything, this move is not at all surprising to me. I agree social media should be used with due care but forcing youths to take down their accounts, not allowing them to express their views will only create pressure situations,” Akhtar said.

ThePrint had reported that around 300 social media accounts, which were allegedly part of a “cyber bullying” group, are under the radar of the Kashmir Police. The police said this was not based on “political lines” and that complaints of targeted harassment and threats had been received.

News agencies Kashmir Walla and Anadolu Agency had also reported that the Kashmiri community was being “silenced” on Twitter and that accounts of people expressing themselves had “vanished”.

Also read: Rejected, infructuous, pending — status of pleas in SC, HC against detention of J&K leaders


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