By Fahad Shah
A page was started on Facebook called, Bekaar Jamaath (Idle group). It was about “fun, friends and life”. When Kashmir saw mass public protests in 2010, the page was converted into Aalaw (A Call) along with a website http://www.aalaw-kashmircalls.org. It would post about the happenings in Kashmir. In their own words “breaking the mist of bias, Indian media is covered in”. The information on the website says that the website and Facebook page is maintained, administered and run by administrators of major Pro-Kashmir pages and groups on the Facebook. It has been blocked eighteen times, so far. Police has been looking for the admins of this page since it started but couldn’t trace any of them. The Kashmir Walla Editor, Fahad Shah, talked to its admins who are saying, in this interview, that they are beyond the reach and jurisdiction of the police.
You are one of the admins of Aalaw page. Can you tell us how many admins does Aalaw have?
Aalaw has about 9 admins and 16 co-admins. However the number of admins and co-admins keeps on changing with time as per the requirements.
How and when did the idea of Aalaw come?
Idea of Aalaw came from some senior intellectuals of Kashmir. They advised one of our senior admins to form a platform which can give true picture of the happenings in Kashmir. They advised us to stay anonymous for the platform to keep running.
Being a popular page in Kashmir, what is your main focus?
Our main focus is Freedom Struggle of Kashmir. We do believe that the struggle for Freedom of Kashmir is an Islamic obligation. So, in other words we are performing our religious duties at Aalaw.
It is said that you are entirely based out of Kashmir. Is this a fact?
Aalaw is a web platform. Web is a global village. We are beyond any geographical boundaries. Moreover, no one among admins and co-admins knows the location of other admins. We even do not bother to enquire about that from each other. We receive updates from our well-wishers in media and from trusted fans.
This year state police claimed that they have arrested one of the admins of your page and you denied that. Was any admin of Aalaw ever arrested?
Although we believe that getting arrested or getting killed while we perform our Ibadah is a big honour for us, but by the grace of Allah (JS) no one among our admins or co-admins was arrested by the police. Everyone in our group is safe and sound. Police deliberately spreads such hoax just only to scare away our readers/fans. We can say that all of us are beyond their reach and jurisdiction.
Do you feel that you are being tracked?
Yes we are being tracked. And we know that. We take this as a challenge and we love such challenges.
How much response do you get?
We get immense response. People like Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Nawaz Shareef, some senior journalists of Kashmir, Pro-freedom as well as some Indian mainstream politicians, Human right activists, even some senior officials of Kashmir administration have been following us. We have been receiving clarifications, rebuttals, updates, suggestions, advice and press notes from all those who matter. Imran Khan of Pakistan has applauded us and requested us to extend out support to his party in our private chat with him. Some international human rights activists often interact with us through this medium. We have been receiving immense support from people of Egypt and Palestine. Among our fans are some members of British parliament.
Your page was blocked. Who do you think blocks your page and why?
Our page was blocked 18 times for obvious reasons.
In your views, what purpose does this page serve?
This page is a call for Justice. It has and is serving its cause to the best of our expectations.
Do you think social media provokes masses?
Social media does not provoke any one. It only awakes the sleeping masses.
You put up updates, and then, in comments, there are abuses. So doesn’t it make things bad?
We believe in freedom of speech. As long as the discourse on any issue is healthy and intellectually stimulating we don’t censor it but at the same time we have strongly disapprove use of invectives or denigrating statements made by either side and take down the abusive content. Any sort of abusive lingo is a turn off for the bonafide page followers and hits our credibility and we strongly disapprove of it.
Do you think you have achieved anything till now?
Alhamdulillah to the dismay of our critics we have achieved a lot. It may not be visibly tangible but yes we have succeeded in inculcating the spirit to question and expose the puppet rulers and their policies as dictated by their masters in the power corridors of New Delhi. We have succeeded in forming large base of followers who are politically aware of the Chankiya polity and Machiavellian economy forced upon us by the occupiers. Kashmiris have started to come out of their herd mentality syndrome and now every Kashmiri demands his basic right to live a life of dignity restored to him.
Many people believe that this page is now run by people other than those who started it. Is this true or you are the people who started it?
This page is being run by the pioneers of Aalaw, but as with any successful movement Aalaw also believes in passing on the baton to a new generation of evolving strategists and revolutionary thinkers. Enthusing fresh blood into the Aalaw is our company policy but not at the expense of the founding fathers who are part and parcel of the changing dynamics of team Aalaw.