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Fake News on Jammu and Kashmir Fanning Hatred

The hysteria unleashed on social media contributed to a shift in India’s focus from fighting cross-border terrorism to bringing the pilot back home, according to experts

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India Polls, Fake News, Millions
Reaching out to the old people, who are newly getting introduced to smartphones and social media is a challenge. Pixabay

As an information war broke out amid continued lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, fake news originating from the rumour mills in different places around the world including Pakistan have gone into overdrive to sow seeds of discord among security forces and fuel hatred among citizens of India.

From allegations of rift between the CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police to falsely showing scenes of 2018 Kulgam blast video as “massacre” being carried out in the region, rumour mongers are leaving no stone unturned to build public opinion against India.

Fact-checking website Boom on Monday revealed that two graphics attributed to news channel ‘Mirror Now’ claiming the Indian government has banned animal sacrifice in Kashmir, is fake.

Mirror Now’s editor Faye D’Souza tweeted that the graphics were photoshopped.

The journalist whose photo and name can be spotted in the viral graphic is currently reporting on the floods in Kerala and not on Kashmir, Boom said.

Another fake message planted on social media alleged that a “Muslim Kashmiri policeman shot & killed five Indian CRPF personnel in a ‘blue on blue’ attack after they refused to let a pregnant woman by because she didn’t have the curfew pass. Things on edge since that attack.”

Both the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday dismissed the messages of rift among security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The malicious content of this tweet is absolutely baseless and untrue. As always, all the security forces of India are working with coordination and bonhomie. Patriotism and our tricolour lie at the core of our heart and existence, even when the color of our uniforms may differ,” the CRPF said in a tweet.

India Polls, Fake News, Millions
These news forwards, many of which contained fake news, surged during the election time as well. Pixabay

The Indian government is contemplating legal action against media outlets for reporting fabricated and baseless news relating to developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

Attributing “facts” to foreign news agencies, a few media outlets claimed that the Valley witnessed a large-scale protest and violence on Friday.

Earlier, prominent Pakistan news daily ‘Dawn’ went to the extent of claiming that over 10,000 people have gathered in Srinagar staging a protest over revocation of special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.

Experts warn that Indian social media users need to exercise caution while sharing news as they may become victim to psychological warfare controlled by foreign powers.

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Similar information war was waged after the Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s plane crashed in Pakistani territory on February 27.

The hysteria unleashed on social media contributed to a shift in India’s focus from fighting cross-border terrorism to bringing the pilot back home, according to experts.

“In such a case when self-regulation becomes ineffective, it will be a good idea to come up with specific guidelines which should govern the behaviour and the acts done on social media during important moments of our national interest,” Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts, had told IANS. (IANS)

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India to Set Up “Border Haats” with Myanmar

The Minister said, The success of the "Border Haats" running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar 'haats'

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India, Border Haats, Myanmar
To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of 'Border Haat' has been identified in four places -- Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram. Pixabay

The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there.

“To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of ‘Border Haat’ has been identified in four places — Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram,” Mizoram Commerce and Industries Minister R. Lalthangliana told IANS.

The Minister said, “The success of the “Border Haats” running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar ‘haats’ with Mynmar in Mizoram.”

Mizoram Commerce and Industries Department Director J. Hmingthanmawia said that the state government has sent the detailed proposals in this regard to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for its approval.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. Pixabay

“Once we get the green signal from the MEA, we would seek funds from the Union Industries and Commerce Ministry,” Hmingthanmawia told IANS. He said that officials of the Mizoram government and Myanmar have recently conducted a joint survey and identified the locations to set up the “Border Haats”.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga in his Independence Day speech had said that the proposed “Border Haats” would become important trade points between India and Myanmar.

“Land Custom Station (LCS) at Zokhawthar, the lone trade route for Mizoram with South East Asian countries, is being proposed for upgradation. Construction of Trade Facilitation Centre at Tlabung has already been completed.”

“The Indian government has also proposed construction of an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at four places at the border in Mizoram — Marpara, Tuipuibari, Silsuri and Nunsury. The construction of ICP at Kawrpuichhuah is also expected to commence shortly,” the Chief Minister added.

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Mizoram has an unfenced international border of 404 km with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh. The Border Security Force (BSF) has been guarding the Bangladesh border and Assam Rifles personnel are posted on the border with Myanmar.

Experts and various studies suggest that if the “Border Haats” are set up, smuggling of drugs and other commodities would be checked to a large extent. Security expert Manas Paul said that large-scale smuggling of drugs from Myanmar via Mizoram and other neighbouring states has increased in the last few years.

“What is really worrisome is the fact that these synthetic drugs have got a domestic market inside the state, especially among the younger generation. Cross border legal activities including setting up of “Border Haats” could curb the smuggling of drugs and other contraband,” Paul, who has authored books on security and terrorism in the northeast, told IANS.

The CUTS International, a Jaipur based international NGO, with support from the World Bank, had conducted a study in 2016 to understand and examine the effect of “Border Haats” on poverty alleviation and other multiplier effects such as informal trade.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there. Pixabay

CUTS International Executive Director Bipul Chatterjee said that trade will increase income, curb smuggling, and cross-border crimes will also go down.

“‘Border Haats’ have contributed to the border area development, roads have improved, trafficking of women has stopped, unemployment issues have been addressed,” said Chatterjee.

Currently four “Border Haats” are operational in Meghalaya and Tripura. The first “Border Haat” was started on July 23, 2011 at Kalaichar (India)-Kurigram (Bangladesh) in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Three other “haats” followed in Meghalaya and Tripura.

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The Union Industries and Commerce Ministry has been spending on an average Rs 3.5 crore to develop the infrastructure and necessary facilities for each “Border Haat” along the Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh government is not providing any funds for the purpose.  (IANS)