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SRINAGAR: Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and the Founder of Facebook, knew least that the platform he built in 2004 “to help connect people at colleges and a few schools”, could also become a vehicle to spread the ‘evil’ instantly and become an inspiration for many youth to do the ‘craziest and wildest stuff’. Given the unchecked access to smartphones bought almost solely for sophisticated cameras and uninterrupted internet services, the youth seem to take values for a ride.  

Giving in to the tantrums and ‘saner arguments’ put forward by their wards about how important it is to stay connected in the virtual world and knowing themselves the positive side of social media, parents seem to have seized keeping a close eye on their children’s activity online. This has resulted in the anxiety among parents, as they continue to remain in the oblivion, and the moral decay in the youth.

According to a survey conducted in 2016 in United Kingdom, 40 percent of parents said that they were “concerned or extremely concerned about social media having a potentially damaging impact on children”. If used with a caution and by adhering to the social networking sites’ guidelines, Facebook’s for instance, on criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, violence and graphic content, hate speech, nudity, etc., the social media could still live upto it expectations to help people live as a community which is connected, caring and morally upright.

In the backdrop of Kashmir conflict, the social media has come in handy in attracting more recruitment for the militant organisations. Burhan Wani, the slain young militant commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit, used social media to attract more youth and send his message, as in a video uploaded on social media in 2016, Burhan is seen urging the youth to join him and asking the police to stop fighting against the militants. Post his death on July 8, 2016, the militant organizations continue to use social media, especially in confirming new recruitments.

Rumours also get a free ride on social media in Kashmir, as in the words of a Kashmir-based journalist who wrote on his Facebook account, “If rumours were a country, it would be Kashmir”. These rumours come with their own complications which often tend to lead to widespread chaos. The same was seen in 2016, when a rumour that some children had died due to expired vaccine was spread through social networking sites. People in thousands rushed to hospitals along with children who were administered pulse polio drops on that day. If it were not for the announcements made on television and radio, the chaos was unlikely to subside soon. 

In Kashmir, where internet is often snapped by the state, many youth take to social media to live broadcast events unfolding before or around them, be it an encounter, a protest or an accident involving a local and a military vehicle.  Pertinently, according a recent report in the Hindu, a clampdown is underway in Jammu and Kashmir to contain the flow of ‘fake news’ on social media platforms.  In our part of the world, i.e. in Kashmir despite the sporadic internet, the use of social media is considered as only means of entertainment, as a result it has drew a major impact on every individual’s life and on corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, social groups, political parties, and government as well.

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Everybody has a view on Kashmir, a long pending dispute between India and Pakistan in South Asian region since last seven decades. I also have my own view on Kashmir. Since childhood I grow up witnessing harshment, torture, abuse and so on.  As i grow up i learnt Kashmir is a big Poltical Dispute between India and Pakistan.

While India calls Kashmir as its "Internal Organ", Pakistan also says Kashmir is our "Jugular Vein" but the politicians of both the countries fail to address and solve the real Kashmir issue. They raise "Kashmir Issue" to get public attention in order to get votes and come in power but they forgot everything to deliver on ground when they come in power.

Its a common Kashmiri who suffers a lot of emotional trauma by witnessing killings of little buds, youth's and old age people almost on daily basis because of their political greed.  Besides this, torture, harassment, manhandling by government forces also adds fuel to fire, which is forcing lot of youth's even well qualified/educated students also are picking up arms to fight against these atrocities and this is really alarming. 

But, the seriousness of this issue has no effect on politicians from either side, by talking about this issue, they either want to remain in news or just do a vote bank politics. For them, Kashmir certainly is a political tool to grab public attention.  During election time "Kashmir Issue" is being raised randomly by politicians from both the countries for their political benefits, and after getting in power, the don't work on ground so no change can be seen in Kashmir from last seven decades. 

United Nations have also asked both the countries to come forward and start dialogue process to solve the Kashmir Issue. Till date the resolution of Kashmir issue has been put up 18 times before United Nations but no action was taken on it. The people of Kashmir also feel disappointed and betrayed as the leadership of both the countries and Kashmiri separatist leadership (Hurriyat) also failed to address the aspirations of people of Kashmir.

Kashmiri people want peaceful settlement and resolution of Kashmir issue without any bloodshed as they are witnessing bloodshed, inhuman activities on daily basis and If both the countries sincerely want to solve "Kashmir Issues" then they should come on table and start dialogue with Kashmiri people, so that this long pending issue can be solved peacefully and let peace prevail in the whole South Asian region. 

Otherwise, "Kashmir Issue" will always remain a political ground for politicians of both the countries and Kashmiri's will always suffer a lot if its not solved peacefully by both the countries.
 
Article by:Raouf Dar( Anantnag District),  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 9906571719

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Since the inception of RTI Act in Jammu and Kashmir State i.e. from 20th March 2009 to till date, almost a decade now, the perception and fear in the minds of the designated Public Information Officers loom in that only they are responsible for providing information to an RTI applicant and in case any delay happens in providing information to the applicant  than they may attract the penalty as enshrined under section 17 of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009, that calls for a penalty range from  Rs. 250 to 25000 besides disciplinary action under civil services rules as applicable to the PIO.

But this is not the exact case and the designated Public Information officers must visit section 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009  thoroughly, of which a part is reproduced here, section 5(3) “ Every Public information officer shall deal with requests from person seeking information and render reasonable assistance to the person seeking such information”  however section 5(4) and 5(5) clearly provides a sigh of relief to the designated Public Information officers as they read as “ The PIO may seek assistance of any other officer as he/she considers it necessary for the proper discharge of his/her duties”  and “Any officer whose assistance is sought is under sub section 4 shall render all assistance to the PIO seeking  the assistance for purpose of contravention of the provisions of the act. Such other officers shall be treated as Public Information officers”.

It is pertinent to mention here that in Jammu and Kashmir state, the Public Information Officers (minimum  equivalent to rank of Under Secretaries ) are designated by the Public Authorities under section 5(1) of the act and they are suppose to provide information to an RTI applicant within stipulated period of time 30 days in general cases and 48 hours in exception cases related to life and liberty clause.

But unfortunately, often there are complaints from the PIOs that they find it quite difficult to provide voluminous and old information to the applicants within stipulated period of time and in case they fail to follow the time line then the applicant move the next higher authorities to file 1st appeal , 2nd appeal or complaints before the state information commission and a sword of penal provision always hung around their necks as under section 17-s , it is for the PIO to prove his innocence and he had acted reasonably and diligently.

The designated PIOs also complaint of non-cooperation from their colleagues as they feel that providing information under RTI act is the sole responsibility of the PIO and the poor PIOs lacking knowledge of law seldom exercise the option available to them under section 5(4) that is to seek assistance of any officer( senior or junior) and in case the officers whose assistance the designated PIO seeks fails to help then he/she would be liable to the same penalties as they were the designated PIOs.

The fear of RTI law amongst PIO is not only because they do not want to share information or the information is not available with their offices but lack of knowledge of the remedies under RTI act make it difficult for them to dispose of RTI applications under stipulated period of time.

The PIOs if properly go through all the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009 surely they would find it much easier to dispose the RTI pleas within reasonable period of time and the innocent citizens would not be compelled to knock the door of higher authorities. Section 5 of RTI act also clearly states that Only PIOs are not responsible for providing information under RTI Act.

Raman Sharma, is an RTI activist and his email id is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.