Jammu and Kashmir floods: How Twitter started a Hindu vs Muslim war over them

As rains pounded Jammu and Kashmir relentlessly, the all-too-familiar yet disturbing images of destruction surfaced on the Internet. Half a concrete bridge bitten off by flood waters, a three-storey house snapped at the centre, entire neighborhoods up to their heads in water, people sobbing, people with ashened faces and blank eyes huddling around Army personnel, aged people being carried on shoulders.

The images were terrifying and humbling at the same time. And it had the effect of immediately mobilizing social media. Like we noticed in an earlier post, for a moment it seemed as if India's enthusiastic netizens - infamous for their predilection for aggressive, noxious debates - had risen above petty issues of religion and politics, and were working to turn Twitter and Facebook into vehicles to aid rescue and relief operations.

One has to accept that over the past two days, social media, especially Twitter was extensively used to share information, send SOS messages about stranded victims, seek aid, dispense aid and also share information about Army, government and other private helplines working on the ground. However, given the combination of Kashmir and Twitter, hoping that the trolls would behave was evidently too much to ask for.

 Jammu and Kashmir floods: How Twitter started a Hindu vs Muslim war over them

A bridge broken off in the floods. AFP.

While most sane, logical Indians would have by now become immune to the inanities - often coloured with appaling religious and political biases - that pass off as 'debate' on social media, Twitter touched a new low during the floods.

As the hashtag #KashmirFloods continued to trend on Twitter India, it was hijacked by trolls, and eventually degenerated into familiar social media religious bickering.

The Hindutva trolls found it necessary to point out that the floods were avenging Kashmiri Pandits who were displaced by Muslims. Some pointed out that Hindutva outfits like the RSS are doing a great job of aid, though they are much hated by the Muslims.

A bunch of tweets decided to declare the Indian Army as a homogeneous Hindu entity, thereby pointing out the apparent irony of the Hindu Army saving Kashmiri Muslims who pelt stones at the former.

A bunch of Muslim voices from India, fewer for obvious reasons, chose to blame Hindu pilgrims and the Indian army of destroying Kashmir's ecology, thereby bringing the floods upon them. On social media, the Kashmir floods ceased to be a tragedy, They soon turned into a war.

Following are a few, of the many and incendiary tweets, that have been doing the rounds of Twitter while trying to establish a skewed idea of Hindu supremacy.

Like we noted above, a few pro-Muslim trolls weren't far behind either.

However, the good news is that, while there was pointless and infuriating distortion of facts around the floods, there were as many voices which pointed out the futility of a Hindu-Muslim or India-Pakistan debate at a time when Jammu and Kashmir was faced with great tragedy. While some rightly pointed out how shameful it is to give a tragedy like this a religious spin, others emphasized how these conversations helped no one and were being encouraged by petty trouble mongers.

While most logical internet users don't take these voices too seriously, given their growing breed, it is perhaps necessary to put a gag on them. Especially when they seem to be in the favour of exploiting a devastating tragedy for purposes of religion-based politicking.

Updated Date: Sep 09, 2014 11:37:17 IST