Julian Assange

The Australian techie who is currently in a literal house arrest in London suburbs has shocked the world by giving them access to information they never had. Driven by the idea of making the world more transparent in its dealing, he created a website that leaks information, otherwise secret, to the public domain. So far his target continues to be the US.

Usually referred to as “the Robin Hood of hacking”, Assange started computer hacking at the age of 16. In 2006, he found WikiLeaks with the belief that the free exchange of information would put an end to illegitimate governance. In July 2010 he released about 90,000 classified US military records from the Afghanistan war that brought him global attention. A US soldier working in the States Department then uploaded on his site a huge cache of 251000 cables that US missions across the globe had authored.

WikiLeaks entered into agreements with a number of leading publications across the world and the information started coming out in a big way. Under the agreement, the publications would withhold the names of the sources of the diplomats so that they are kept out of any harm. Last month, Assange posted all the cables without redacting anything. It led to his joint condemnation by the affiliated publications. His response was that since one of the reporters of the Guardian had leaked the key to the dump that exposed everything, so there is no reason for redacting anything now.

Till recently Assange was unimportant for the people of Kashmir. His efforts were global and had nothing to do with Kashmir. His unquestionable commitment enabled us to know about what people (read Americans) think about us. And what people discuss behind those thick walls and what they speak in public.
That is exactly how Kashmir knows Assange now. The cables leaked by the website offer huge information about the crisis in Kashmir and how actors and the stake holders of the conflict are working, behaving and reasoning. It also gives some inputs about how the US sees the conflict in Kashmir as a power that has historically tried to be seen as a conflict manager.

Though certain observations were already part of the unwritten history, certain revelations can be contested on the basis of facts that informants choose to ignore. But there is vast information leaked that people might have never known. Kashmir history has historically remained scattered around the world in pieces. But the wikileaks revelation has enriched the local historian to understand one bad patch of history better.


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