As the Indian Government on Monday abrogated constitutional provisions that give Indian-occupied Kashmir special rights, a number of Twitter hashtags popped up in solidarity with the people of the valley.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
The move raises fears of further violence in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region where Kashmiri fighters and many residents have fought for the region's independence or to join Pakistan.
"There will a very strong reaction in Kashmir. It's already in a state of unrest and this will only make it worse," Wajahat Habibullah, a former senior bureaucrat in Jammu and Kashmir, told AFP yesterday.
Uniting under hashtags such as #RedForKashmir, #BleedForKashmir, #StandWithKashmir and #KashmirUnderThreat, social media users from around the world expressed their solidarity with the people of Kashmir, in spite of the complete communication clampdown in the occupied region.
A number of social media users, mostly on Twitter, changed their display picture to a bright red colour after a call to action under the hashtag #RedForKashmir started making rounds.
A text accompanying several of the social media posts discussed the plight that Kashmiris in the occupied region faced:
Other users pointed out that the colour red had been chosen: "Red is the colour of our blood. Red is the colour of our history. Red is all of us."
Users called India out for repealing Article 370 from Kashmir, while also asking the global community — especially Pakistan — to bring the matter up on international forums, such as the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Curfew like situation
Tension had risen in Kashmir since Friday, when Indian officials issued an alert over possible militant attacks. Thousands of alarmed Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers streamed out of the region over the weekend.
Late on Sunday night, the Indian government imposed curfew-like restrictions in the restive region while sending in tens of thousands of additional troops.
Former IoK chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest, and later taken into custody.
"There shall be no movement of public. All educational institutions shall also remain closed. There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required," read an Indian government order, but added: "there is no curfew in place".