Users on social media are turning their profile pictures red in solidarity with protesters in Kashmir.
The Indian government’s announcement on Monday that it would revoke the ‘special status’ of the majority Muslim region of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has been met by a storm of global criticism.
The hard-right Hindu nationalist Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attempted to clamp down on any voices of dissent emanating from the restive region. This, however, has not stopped Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris around the world from attempting to raise awareness of the clampdown.
As a response, many on social media have been sharing the hashtag #RedForKashmir to raise awareness of the Indian government’s bid to “integrate” the region into India against the will of the people living there and against its international commitments.
One social media user describes the testimony of what Kashmiris have been going through over the last several decades:
“There were dungeons in the city where hundreds of young men were kept in heavy chains and from where many never emerged alive, there were thousands who had disappeared leaving behind women with photographs and perennial waiting, there were multitudes of dead bodies on the roads, in hospital beds, in fresh martyrs’ graveyards and scattered casually on the snow of mindless borders.”
‘Stand up with Kashmir’ one of the online activist groups that came up with #RedForKashmir speaking to TRT World said: “Going red is an expression of solidarity with the Kashmiri people who are living under complete curfew with no window or voice to the outside world. India has cut off all communication in Kashmir. No one can step out of their homes. Meanwhile, Indians are celebrating the revocation of Article 370 as a victory while Kashmiris are living in cages.”
The movement #RedForKashmir has largely grown on social media even as there has been an almost total media and internet blackout in Kashmir, which was implemented over the weekend by Indian authorities keen to control the narrative.
The red backgrounds on profile pictures on social media have become a way of spreading information on the plight of Kashmiris.
“Going blue raised awareness of the Sudan crisis. Going red is doing the same. Social media is a critical medium of engagement globally and red being a provocative colour, is symbolic of the heightened tensions we are facing. Kashmir is the most densely militarized region in the world and a nuclear flashpoint. Kashmiris are being arrested and threats of violence are mounting” added the Stand up with Kashmir group.
For one social media user, the colour red is important because: ”Red is the colour of our blood. Red is the colour of Kong and Chinar. Red is the colour of history. Red is all of us.”