A group of 30 Kashmiri schoolgirls – the first such group from Srinagar – who returned from an Army-sponsored tour of Delhi and Agra are now facing online abuse and threats.
But, back from the 10-day trip yesterday, the teenagers remain defiant in the face of these threats. Some of the students spoke with say they don’t care about what abusers are posting on social networking sites. “It was a very good trip. We enjoyed it,” said one. Asked about the online abuse and criticism, another student said, “I don’t care. Let them say whatever they want to,” she said.
The girls were threatened online with abusers saying that no one should marry these girls. Their families were also criticised for sending their daughters on the tour.
Also separatist groups like Dukhtaran-e-Millat lead by Asiya Andrabi, issued statements criticising families and girls.
As the girls returned from their meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee and visits to historic places and institutions, the Army expressed its concern over online abuse. It has asked civil society to take note of threats and filthy language being used against the teenage girls.
“If they have their opinion so do these children, their schools and parents…Making it very personal and some of the comments were so low that I don’t want to comment on them. So it’s for the civil society to take stock whether you should allow young girls to be subjected to such a trauma” said Lt Gen Satish Dua, GOC 15 Corps.
For the last 15 years, the army has been conducting tours for students and civilians under operation Sadbhawana in an effort to integrate Kashmiri society with the rest of the country. This is the first time that girl students from Srinagar city went on a Sadbhawana tour.