New Delhi: The stone throwers of Kashmir have moved from the streets and main roads of their state, and on to the World Wide Web. Believe it or not, there are actually groups of Kashmiri stone throwers who have registered themselves on Facebook.
A cursory search on the social networking site showed four groups, including ’Kaushur haatyar- Kann’e Jang’ (stone pelting), ’J&k Stone Pelting Association’, ’I’m a Kashmiri Stone Pelter’, ’Stone Throwers Association of Kashmir’ and ’ALL KASHMIR STONE THROWERS ASSOCIATION’.
Creator of the J&K Stone Pelting Association group, Harun Mir said, “Not only on Facebook, you can also find us on Twitter, MySpace, hi5, Orkut and Kashmir Friend.” The kashmirfriend.com is in fact the world’s “first social media network dedicated to people of Kashmir” as the website claims.
One common attempt among all the groups is to attract attention and try to get global intervention in the Kashmir issue. The groups unanimously focus on alleged violation of human rights and so-called atrocities by security forces in Kashmir by putting in pictures and videos of different incidents in Srinagar and other places of the state. Creator of the J&K Stone Pelting Association group, Harun Mir said, “Definitely it has helped us as Kashmir is being seen as international issue and international media is highlighting the Kashmir issue.”
The Facebook group for ’Im a Kashmiri Stone Pelter’ is prolific in defining the identity of a stone pelter. The group’s profile introduction reads, “No need to have a name, surname, qualification and profession. Just one word sums up my personality ‘Stone Pelter’”. The profile is also replete with pictures of stones on Kashmir’s roads, injured policemen and broken vehicles.
Another group called the ’Stone Throwers Association of Kashmir’ is unexpectedly in the ”Just for Fun” category of the Facebook. On being asked about the logic behind this categorization, creator and administrator Danish Riaz said, “It is fun for India, not fun for us. It is India who compels us to hate it. The government forces and politicians are adding fuel to the already burning fire.”
The CRPF is of late the target of public ire in Kashmir for alleged gunning down of innocent Kashmiri youths.
“The CRPF first starts firing at peaceful procession and eventually stone pelting starts,” said Mir. ”We are trying our best to stop the violence but when the CRPF is killing innocent boys, how can we remain silent?” he added.
Riaz even claimed to know of the identity of the security personnel who allegedly dragged three Kashmiri boys out of their homes and killed them recently. “There is no law in Kashmir. If there was law then these murderers would have been put behind bars,” he said.
Riaz however denied the involvement of any foreign hand in the stone campaign, and accused the home ministry of falsely bringing in the foreign element to justify its killing of civilians. “The government has no proof to justify the killings. (so) The home ministry issued this statement.”
The question that also arose was from where such a large number of stone throwers appeared. No specific information is available whether they are professionals or common people reacting merely out of raw emotion.
As a jibe on the educated class, the group ’Im a Kashmiri Stone Pelter’ said the paid stone throwers need no formal education or designation. One can earn anywhere between Rs100-2,500 daily. Creator Mosadique Shah even mocked the Income-Tax officials by stating that he feared a tax raid. However, a questionnaire forwarded to Shah regarding the source of money and the employers of the so-called stone throwers went unanswered.
Riaz from the ’Stone Throwers Association of Kashmir group, rejected the use of money to bring in stone throwers. “This is rubbish. The people protest on their own,” he said. Even Mir snubbed the idea of professional stone throwers. “I tell you no one is paid for stone pelting. And if u know 100,000 people are paid, you are joking,” he said.
There is also hot online debate on whether stone pelting is Islamic or not. Police and some Muslim scholars are maintaining that stoning is anti-Islam. A Muslim scholar Moulana Showkat pointed to a quote from the book of Al-Adab (Good manners) in Sehi Bukhari Sherief, “It neither hunts a game nor kills (or hurts) an enemy, but it gouges out an eye or breaks a tooth.” Showkat is clearly trying to show the futility of the stone throwing exercise.
Turning to history, stone throwing is not new globally. It is just a new found rage in Kashmir. Right through 80s and 90s and even now, Palestinian and Lebanese stone throwers have targeted the Israeli security forces. A person named Mohammad Hamza from Syria even developed a video game called The Stone Throwers.
The Facebook groups have between 50 and 300 people as members. And with the trend this might simply burgeon.