GR News Dek | Srinagar
On a day when the government dropped a second lot of foreign envoys in Jammu and Kashmir to paint all is well picture, one diplomat became a center of attention for tweeting pictures. Ironically, Twitter is blocked in the Union Territory along with other social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
Facing flak over the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN), Kashmiris raised the question including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is now banned under PSA.
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Tahir Qadiry, Chargé d’Affaires of Afghanistan, who was part of the 25-members envoys on the trip Kashmir posted a number of tweets detailing his visit to the Valley. The posts varied from pictures of discussions with local entrepreneurs to him posing on Shikaras in Dal Lake.
In his first tweet, he wrote “A Kashmiri woman paddling her boat through the Dal Lake, Srinagar. Like Venice, lots of shopping points selling local handicrafts & boat resorts in the middle of the lake. Undoubtedly the valley has a lot of potential for boosting tourism”.
Kashmiris on Twitter wondered which VPN Qadiry was using to access Twitter in the midst of blockade. “SM is banned in #Kashmir, just curious to know which VPN you are currently using?” asked Saleem Hassan. “I am curious too @tahirqadiry can u say anything about the VPN used by u to share these pics,” mocked another netizen, quoting Mr. Qadiry’s tweet.
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Reacting to the visit of envoys, Iltija Mufti, the daughter of incarcerated PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, said she hoped that the ambassadors will question the authorities about the internet ban and detention of political leaders under the Public Safety Act. In another tweet, she wrote “Your excellency please do enlighten us Kashmiris about which VPN you are using to tweet? We will also download and tweet freely”
Qadiry later tweeted, “In our interaction with the Kashmiri media outlets, the media people seriously urged the govt to restore the internet broadband as it is causing them so much problems to report and broadcast.”
CPI-M leader Yousuf Tarigami questioned the central government on its motives. He also questioned the government on why Opposition leaders were not being allowed to visit the Jammu-Kashmir Union territory.
While interacting with a news agency Tarigami said, “Since the visit of this foreign diplomats’ delegation is being felicitated by the government, it is pertinent to ask as to what exactly the government wants to achieve through this exercise? If they are facilitating the visit of foreign delegations, why are they not allowing Indian Opposition leaders to visit Kashmir and meet the people?”
Diplomats from over 25 countries including Germany, Italy, New Zealand, France, and Canada were in Kashmir to witness the “ground reality” in the region. The visit also comes more than six months after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
On Thursday, the diplomats met with Chinar Corps Commander Lt General KJS Dhillon and were briefed on the security situation in the state.