Even as Delhi Police is investigating the complaint filed against Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement leader Shehla Rashid, accusing her of "spreading fake news with the intention to malign the image of Indian Army", a private news channel ran a poll on social media asking if she should be arrested.
The YouTube poll, which was deleted after it was called out on Monday, 19 August, followed hashtags like #ArrestShehlaRashid and #ShehlaRashid which trended throughout the day.
Senior journalists tweeted that while one can disagree and question Rashid, it was ‘not acceptable’ to ‘target her in this vile’ manner
Is this journalism or a kangaroo court? Is it even legal to target @Shehla_Rashid in this vile way. Disagree with her, question her that is within acceptable media boundaries. This is incitement pic.twitter.com/Xvoky2gC6S— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) August 19, 2019
CNN News18 ran a poll on their YouTube Page calling for arrest of @Shehla_Rashid; Deleted it when they were questioned. Journalism in #NewIndia wants those critical of Govt to be arrested for an unverified tweet, while govt can keep propagating misinformation with no ramification pic.twitter.com/bsNL3pGmLG— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) August 19, 2019
Perfectly okay for folks to disagree with, or even to criticize, @Shehla_Rashid. But when national TV channels start whipping up hatred against an activist because she pushes the right buttons—articulate, female, Kashmiri Muslim who opposes the BJP—decent people should push back.— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) August 19, 2019
Rashid had, in her tweets, alleged that Army personnel "ransacked" houses and that four men were "interrogated (tortured)" in Shopian . The Indian Army had issued a statement denying the former student activist’s claims, calling it “fake and baseless.”
‘What Will You Do With Proof,’ Rashid Slams Indian Media
Reacting to the controversy, Rashid demanded a "fair and impartial" probe in the matter.
"All of my tweets are based on conversations with people. My thread highlights the positive work of the administration too. Let the Army conduct a fair and impartial probe and I'm willing to share the details of the incidents mentioned with them," Rashid wrote.
She said that it was “cute” that right-wing was threatening her with lawsuits when “there is no law” in Kashmir.
Isn't it cute that right-wing threatens you with lawsuits, while having suspended every law and every last remaining shred of the rule of law in Kashmir? Right now, Kashmir is the only place on Earth where no law exists! Only the law of the jungle.— Shehla Rashid شہلا رشید (@Shehla_Rashid) August 19, 2019
Journos Accuse Rashid of Spreading Fake News
Senior journalists like Aditya Raj Kaul and Marya Shakil accused Rashid of being ‘delusional’ and creating a false narrative.
Shehla Rashid WANTS to get arrested so that she can play victim and emerge as a politician in Kashmir by gaining sympathy. Don’t fall in her trap. Instead ask @Twitter to suspend her account and ignore the hate filled tweets. Don’t give her any publicity. Shehla is a nobody. https://t.co/x7eNu3DOgB— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 19, 2019
Twitter following has started making people delusional about their on ground support. Here’s one classic example. Instead of creating a false narrative, likes of #ShehlaRashid should give peace a chance. https://t.co/jmasup4qeE— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) August 19, 2019
She also slammed a senior editor who asked her to show proof, by asking him to “read the news.”
Please read the news. I can't do the job of bringing you your morning paper. Better still, ask your reporters to go to Kashmir and try doing some actual ground reportage rather than acting as Modi govt's PR agency. Ask your reporters to go to Shopian or Safa Kadal and report. https://t.co/R24USio2Sl— Shehla Rashid شہلا رشید (@Shehla_Rashid) August 19, 2019
‘Why Should Shah Faesal Have All the Fun?’
In his complaint to Delhi Police, Supreme Court advocate Alok Srivastava said that the allegations made by Rashid, in her tweets on Kashmir are “absolutely false and concocted,” since she had not produced any "voice recording" of the alleged torture or "name, date, time" of the incidents.
As Rashid’s tweets became viral, people on social media called for her arrest, alleging that her actions were ‘pro-Pakistan’ and that she was ‘sharing fake news consistently.’
One Twitter handle, @AskAnshul even claimed that she must have tweeted to get ‘more media attention.’
This time, Shehla Rashid is deliberately spreading fake news against Army to get arrested.— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) August 19, 2019
1. Highlight like Shah Faesal
2. Outrage by Left for her release
3. Political gain
4. Her Coverage by BBC & Al Jazeera
Shehla must be thinking Why should Faesal have all the fun?
Was watching on television this evening, when local Kashmiris were being interviewed about @Shehla_Rashid's controversial tweets, they were clueless as to who she was. Felt good to see! https://t.co/7nbrgpGGgG— Priti Gandhi (@MrsGandhi) August 19, 2019
‘Right buttons’? Like sharing fake news consistently? Accusing the Indian army of atrocities? Embezzling funds collected in the name of a child? Spreading hatred and bigotry? Lying through her teeth? Wow, are these your ‘right buttons’ @dhume?— Shefali Vaidya ஷெஃபாலி வைத்யா शेफाली वैद्य (@ShefVaidya) August 19, 2019
Very nice! I hope strict action is taken against @Shehla_Rashid and other fake news peddlers like her! I don’t know why don’t people understand that their propaganda is based on Kashmir being violent and volatile all the time! They can’t bear even an hour’s peace in the area! https://t.co/zzBCZmNnN2— Katyayini Sharma (@katyayini_s) August 19, 2019
‘Disagree, But Not Bully’
However, people also took to Twitter to extend support for Rashid, calling her trolling a “witch-hunt.” To threaten and bully her is disproportionate in a functional democracy, lawyer and Twitter user Apar wrote.
The vicious attack on @Shehla_Rashid by the Sanghi trolls is a witch hunt. And now star TV anchors are conducting the troll orchestra. No arrest of a Governor advocating genocide of Kashmiris. But demands for arrest (or worse) of a young woman flagging human rights violations?— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) August 20, 2019
To threaten, bully and commence criminal investigations against @Shehla_Rashid is highly disproportionate in a functional democracy. If an incorrect statement has been made the response is open access & transparency, both of which are lacking at present in Kashmir.— Apar (@apar1984) August 19, 2019
(With inputs from PTI)
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