Virtual Media and Real Life

By Saadut Hussain

“Gentlemen, I am not supposed to be your conscience keeper. You live your life, I live mine. Hence shoo!”

Saadut Hussain

A techie, who ensured 24*7 on-line facilities to state banking customers, is in controversy after his new posting in state government.

An avid blogger, columnist and speaker, Saadut Hussain, is a widely read and travelled person having held counselling sessions in Turkey, China, Spain, Maldives and Los Angeles. His presence on social networking sites invited him mass following for his crisp updates, poems revolving around Kashmir. He left a scientist’s post in Union Planning Commission in 1996, as well.

Once the word of his new posting started doing rounds in social media, Hussain could sense himself amid “troll”. Leading the netizens from front was former CM Omar Abdullah, who could sense the new posting “unmasked” Hussain’s—better known twitter handle: @Ibnebattuta—“PDP face”. As flak mounted, Hussain wrote a blog detailing his stand on the issue. Kashmir Life reproduces the write-up, verbatim, for the interest of its readers

Saadut 9:02 PM (June 11, 2015)

Zindagi tou apney kadmou’n par chaltee hai Faraz:

Aurou’n key sahaarey tou janaaze’y utha kar tey hain

Most people miss the fine print in a story, like the red herrings that goes unread. The troll traffic generated by my deputation to an IT driven project, is unprecedented for me. But most of these comments are coming from those who may know nothing about me, some from friends who expected me to survive on words, while some comments by trolls who would otherwise also abuse.

It becomes easy to judge people on assumption or prejudiced opinions. Never in the past two decades that I have been writing, have I assumed or yearned to assume any leadership role in the political mess of Kashmir. All my opinions have been personal opinions, distanced from my professional profile or private life. For those who claim I was anonymous for some gains couldn’t be more wrong. Even while anonymity on some social media platforms in Kashmir is a survival tool, yet my writings, my site links, audio-video archives always identified me. And this too came at a cost. While my social media friends, who feel dejected that I am part of some new professional project temporarily, may have wanted me to not be part of it, but twitter and Facebook don’t feed grains, and there is a personal life beyond these social networks. These virtual friends also were nowhere to be seen whenever I faced the brunt, like two years back when I was attacked physically by fleeting assailants, only a day after I had been critical of the then dispensation. With a cut face, fractured nose, bleeding eye, none of the virtual friends of social media were of any help in the real world. If virtual friends share my political ideals, will you share the brickbats & attacks too?

Since when was a ‘(temporary) deputation for a project on existing perks’ a new job or gain? Maybe those who see it as a ‘new job’ need to ask a refund from their English teachers. Have been in the IT industry for more than two decades, from a time when most of these commentators would have been in school yet. Interestingly been a consultant to another project in an NC govt of another era; that consultancy for free. So if people had no problem then, why now?

Ironically those who came hunting for me since yesterday were;

  1. a) Virtual friends on social networks who thought I eat and drink politics. Please, all Kashmiris have a political opinion in addition to professional workplaces; especially regarding the resolution to this conflict. I have such an opinion too. If you liked my opinion, you subscribed, if you disliked you had the freedom to ignore. My workplaces may have changed many times in two decades; my personal opinions have not, never did. Your interpretation is your own right & I respect that, for I don’t speak for you nor do you speak for me.
  2. b) People who subscribe to New Delhi’s view on Kashmir. Guys our views are different, but that does not give you a license for slander. We can peacefully hold on to our differing views. ‘Friends’ from rightwinged PK type groups, especially my schoolmate (who ceases to be a friend after his tirade against me) and a writer are prominent mud slingers, even when I have always kept a respectful distance from them. They are understandably prejudiced against me (like their hate for every Kashmiri muslim), since I wrote about real experiences during 90’s of Kashmir, puncturing their claims ( read here). Koshurs who survived the 90’s are witness to what happened back then. We treat you as sons of soil and you have the right to counter us with facts, but slander is too cheap.

Not only did such people resort to slander, but they ran a vicious hate campaign against local Kashmiris, often resorting to rumor mongering & promotion of hate (link here). Such hate mongering resulted in endangering the safety of thousands of Kashmiris in mainland India, like the attacks on Kashmiri students those happened in various institutions. Tragically it remains unclear why the previous dispensation did not curb such rumor mongering aimed at promoting communal tension, under relevant sections.

  1. c) Political groups I have differed with; Am I the exception among commoners for having criticized political parties? The disenchantment of Kashmiris with political groups is decades old and I have been only one among millions of voices expressing that. Instead of learning to lend an ear to ground and listen to common people, they resorted to witch hunting. Holding a political opinion which goes contrary to their view should not have been a crime, had it not been Kashmir. Such political groups not only attacked voices like me physically, but also worked to undermine our lives and safety. When the previous CM took oath, lot of people including me had pinned huge hopes on him, envisaging him to be a different politician. But 2009 deflated those hopes and then 2010 changed it all. The inability of any government to govern properly should not be blamed on the critics who point to its deficiencies. Hounding critics then becomes part of the political failure. Knowing the realities of Kashmir, I should not have dared to take cudgels with his dispensation, mindful of the repercussions, which did take place and I suffered. I am guilty of speaking up, not speaking wrong.
Junaid Mattu
NC Spokesperson Junaid Azim MattuTwitter Handle’s screen shot.

Of course there are also some people who want no redressal systems should be in place for common people, since conflict and chaos suits their existence. But then no government does you a favor by listening to and resolving public service issues. If all those who are hounding, feel common people don’t deserve to be heard, please come forward and take the responsibility.

Typically reminds me of a story I heard years ago,

“A man is taken on a guided tour of hell by hell demons. Outside each hell dungeon belonging to an ethnic group, there is a guard to prevent the escape of these hell dwellers. Surprisingly on one such hell dungeon, he sees no guard on the gate. On asking about the reasons for an unguarded dungeon gate, he is told ‘this hell dungeon belongs to Koshurs, and they don’t need any guards. Since if any one tries to escape, there are ten others who will pull him down to further depths.”

P.S: This also displays the power of social media, when the President of powerful party along with his team resorts to nonstop trolling of an obscure Twitter handle. The same political forces some years back ensured that I was physically attacked and I am fearful of a repeat of such incidents now. When the powerful get scared of your criticism, know you’re your criticism is genuine. They could have blocked such voices if the criticism was not based on facts. Instead of introspection, resorting to all sorts of attacks is a sad display of political arrogance. My two cents “Sir you are one of the most powerful persons in Kashmir, carrying the legacy of a powerful political family. Your trolling and attacking a nondescript commoner will be seen as stooping too low, like the proverbial elephant wanting to trample an ant. We have political differences; don’t take them to heart.”

I may have been threatened on social networks but I shall continue to be there. Adios!

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