“We are no less than Palestine,” say Kashmiris protesting Israeli aggression in Gaza

The last few days have been a sharp escalation of tensions witnessed in the occupied East Jerusalem. In response, to the illegal evictions faced by the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the outbreak of raids against those praying at the Al Aqsa compound. The Israeli violence resulted in hundreds of dead and injured Palestinians. Many Civilians from Kashmir took to the social media expressing their solidarity and support for the people of Palestine.

“Both the Kashmiris and the Palestinians have much in common. Just like Palestine, the Kashmir is heavily blockaded and highly militarized by the state. Despite their human rights violations they claim to survive in what can be described ‘as an open air prison'” says Iqra, a college student from Kashmir.

Apart from extending their support for the oppressed Palestinians against the Israeli apartheid on the AL Quds day, a lot of Kashmiris made use of the social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to extend their solidarity in view of the raids against the Palestinians at Al AQsa. Many Kashmiris denounced the aggressive apartheid techniques of Israelis in Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa using hash tags #SaveSheikhJarrah and #SheikhJarrah. Although many accounts were found to be withheld both in India and Palestine.

“It’s a systematic attempt to shadow ban and shun the voices coming from the oppressed places of Palestine and Kashmir, in attempt to silence the awareness of the violations against both Palestine and Kashmiris”, tweeted a Kashmiri activist on his twitter account @FaizanMohammad

According to a local daily based in Kashmir, social media is arguably a powerful tool to engage people not just in Kashmir but globally to voice the on ground narratives, devoid of any biases or fabrication. In June 2020 showed a 90 % tele density and mobile phone subscribers of 96.08 lacs (9.6 million) and 3.5 million Internet users. As of February 2020, the state had 1.17 cores active social media and mobile users.

Several Palestinian and Kashmiri accounts were banned from sharing the on ground reports, and
the updates during the Israeli raids at Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa. “Eye on Palestine”, a media news Company, runs an instagram page with approximately 918000 followers constantly sharing updates from the on ground situation. However the admin shared an apology statement explaining the “constant censorship of the Palestinian content.”

On talking with the admin he remained to be anonymous thus said, “we are under constant Israeli surveillance, and it’s done only to seize the Palestinian voices from sharing the occupational tactics. We personally wanted to educate and aware people about the biased content being circulated by Israeli media to strengthen their occupational tactics in Palestine.”

Both Kashmir and Palestine use social media as a tool to protest against the repressive occupational regimes.

A lot of pro Kashmiri accounts have been withheld time and again, and activists complained about their tweets and accounts being deleted for criticizing the government.

Urfa, a Kashmiri research scholar enrolled in Islamic University of Science and Technology, says her instagram account was suspended with 30000 followers, while she was out rightly posting videos in support of Kashmir and Palestine.

“I have been receiving lots of hatred and
negative messages, predominately from the rightwing Modi supports and the Israeli supports. My account has been operating since 2014. What’s more problematic for me is the selective activism of people who choose silence over perpetuated oppressions happening in Palestine and Kashmir,” she told Maktoob.

Usman Khurshid, a law postgraduate from Kashmir University states “digital media has paved the way for several arrests and gross human rights violations of Kashmiris, through digital spaces. This happens against the backdrop of social media and technological companies granting India to implement such mass surveillance of the Kashmiri cyber space, Kashmir is no less than Palestine, we are devoid of basic human rights.”

Internet accessibility for both Palestinians and Kashmiris is a “privilege”, and also examines the most dominant social and political campaigns, with the use of viral hash tags #StandWithKashmir and #StandWithPalestine. Digital activism has been a weapon for people from the occupational territories of the world to raise a voice against oppression tactics.

Just like the Israeli cyber security apparatus, the Kashmiri activist pages are under constant surveillance under the Indian Government and have to bear consequence for speaking truth against the Indian Digital apartheid, with depriving them of internet facilities.

With the regressive digital apartheid, and increasing biased narratives over social media, both the Palestinians and Kashmiri accounts have been shunned from the speaking the truth against occupation. With more advanced technologies monitoring of both Palestinian and Kashmiri digital space takes place, where the accounts are scanned, and hence are deemed their content .

“Eye on Kashmir” is another one such account also known by the name of Stand With Kashmir, has been constantly suspended for speaking against the Indian regime. They have been actively penning down and educating the world about occupation in Kashmir.”

Worth mentioning that despite the prevailing pandemic, Kashmiris went out on the streets and commemorated the International Al Quds day via several digital spaces, Several other Kashmiri civilians went out of their homes on ground, expressed solidarity through burning Israeli flags and placards supporting Palestine , hurled Palestinian flags and posters saying “Free Palestine and Save Sheikh Jarrah”. Along this people from across the globe used twitter and Facebook. Several other many hash tags, with billions of accounts adorned with #FlytheFlag #QudasDay2020 and #Free Palestine.

It’s unfair to say that digital spaces are not unbiased, and hence prevent the stories of Kashmiris and Palestinians from awarding the global audience.

Babrah Tabasum Naikoo is a freelance Journalist based in Kashmir and a postgraduate from AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.