[stextbox id=”info”]Social network sites are here, long before we realised. It could not have been announced more loudly than a murder over a virtual friendship.  SHAZIA YOUSUF  analyses the phenomenon.[/stextbox]

Love has become virtual, crime is real. Kashmir has awaken to a new reality, where in virtual world affects people’s lives, for good or bad.

Nineteen year old Asrar Mushtaq Dar paid with his life for his proximity (read virtual proximity) to a girl on social networking site Orkut. Though details about the relationship are not very clear, police said last week that Asrar was killed by his friend Imran, over an Orkut relationship.

“Asrar was in close touch with a Delhi girl through social networking site orkut. This made his friend Imran jealous as he had earlier been dating the same girl earlier. He thought of taking the revenge and committed the murder with the help of his friend Aasim,” said SSP Mujtaba.

SSP City Syed Ahfadul Mujhtaba Photo: Bilal Bahadur

Intimacy and jealousy two entirely different emotions, both were developed through internet for which Asrar had to pay the price.

“Lets hv sum rola rapa–lets call de dholi nw–lets hv sum mandi tappa” this line may seem to invite people for having fun on this social networking site but for the one who wrote it, the site invited death. This is the last status message written by Asrar Mushtaq on his Orkut account.

Asrar was a B.Com second year student at Islamia College Srinagar. He went missing on July 3 and his defaced body was found by local police at Sheikh Colony, Rainawari on July 9. His death stirred huge protests in Srinagar with protesters alleging a police hand in the murder.

As investigations revealed later, Asrar was taken by Imran to his Buchpora home and hit by an iron rod on head. He dumped his bike at the home of his alleged accomplice Asim.
Imran was angry with Imran, as his Orkut friend had jilted him for Asrar. He had deleted Imran from his Orkut account. Imran took the virtual relationship to heart.

Strange as it may seems, relationships on social networking sites are a reality, in Kashmir too.

In May University of Kashmir sent two communication students as part of a SAARC delegation to Pakistan for three weeks. One of them, Danish Abdullah, ended up marrying a woman from Karachi.

Danish had met the women on Facebook and Myspace. In a year their relationship had grown and when Danish got a rare chance to visit Pakistan he utilised it to his best.

His family and friend got the surprise news from his Facebook profile which carried a picture with his wife and a status message that read – …has finally made it official….Got married to my soul mate in Karachi on 19th of June 2009 at Masjid Tooba…. Thanking everyone for the wishes…

Internet provides a networking platform for people, who may otherwise be reticent or unconfident. Internet lets people stay behind a veil to communicate or come across as a different person. A handful of clicks and comments make a memorable date. One doesn’t need to empty one’s pocket or get dressed up for a date.

Three years back when Sheeba Khan (name changed) got a job in a news agency, the first thing she did was joining Orkut and Facebook like social networking sites. “I usually had to work on desk which appeared very boring, besides being in office; I couldn’t make any contact with my old friends. Making online friends was the best cure of boredom for a shy girl like me,” she said.

Three months ago Sheeba was debating Kashmir issue on Orkut, when a person took her side and wrote comments that supported her viewpoint. “They were all speaking against Kashmiris, and I was the only one defending, but we won the debate


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