Famed separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away at the age of 92 on September 1, 2021. He advocated for Kashmir to be separated from India and faced a lot of flack from the right wing community in India.
Upon his death, several memes and messages were posted on social media. Some celebrated his death, some merely posted a news update of it.
One such person person is Suresh Chavhanke, the founder of Sudarshan News who is infamous for his Islamophobic and hateful comments on his channel and social media.
In his tweet of Geelani’s death, he captioned a picture of Geelani as following ,”पाकिस्तान परस्त, ग़द्दार -ए-हिंदुस्थान सैयद अली शाह गिलानी नहीं रहा। इसने मुझे श्रीनगर आकर इंटरव्यू करने का चैलेंज दिया था। मैं वहाँ सीधे इसके घर के दरवाज़े तक पहुँच गया था। लेकिन इसने इंटरव्यू से दंगे होने का बहाना बताकर दरवाज़ा तक नहीं खोला। (translation: The pro-Pakistan, Ghaddar-e-Hindustan Syed Ali Shah Geelani is no more. He challenged me to come to Srinagar and do an interview. I went there straight to the door of his house. But it didn’t even open the door on the pretext of potential rioting from the interview.). Verifying whether he really went to his doorstep is impossible but this inspired a lot people to tweet the same thing.
पाकिस्तान परस्त, ग़द्दार -ए-हिंदुस्थान सैयद अली शाह गिलानी नहीं रहा।
इसने मुझे श्रीनगर आकर इंटरव्यू करने का चैलेंज दिया था। मैं वहाँ सीधे इसके घर के दरवाज़े तक पहुँच गया था। लेकिन इसने इंटरव्यू से दंगे होने का बहाना बताकर दरवाज़ा तक नहीं खोला। pic.twitter.com/t7iCD5Uc7X
— Suresh Chavhanke “Sudarshan News” (@SureshChavhanke) September 1, 2021
The tweet has over 10,000 likes and has been reposted almost 3,000 times. But more than that, the same text used by Chavhanke that reads “पाकिस्तान परस्त, ग़द्दार -ए-हिंदुस्थान सैयद अली शाह गिलानी नहीं रहा।” was tweeted by hundreds of handles over and over again. Suresh Chavhanke posted the tweet on September 1, 2021 at 11:57 PM and the copy paste tweeting started from 12:01 AM till up till the time this article is being written. Total number of IDs that have followed this copy paste pattern is 44 and climbing.
This copy-paste pattern is often used by twitter bots to get a particular word or a phrase trending on twitter. The same exact sentence in this was posted again and again by users and fake accounts.
With this repeated posting, a pattern emerges that sought to populate every twitter timeline possible in order to increase the reach of this particular narrative. The narrative that is being created here is that Geelani was pro-Pakistan and was a traitor and everyone must celebrate his death.
Apart from the crass nature of this narrative, it is a kind of hate generated for someone who is no longer alive. What is the point of name-calling someone who is dead? It is possible that these groups use every opportunity they get to brand whoever they don’t agree with in a bad light and will perhaps go an extra mile to make their voices heard.
We found that Geelani’s wikipedia page was altered to read “pro-Pakistan separatist” after his death and then was changed back.
The ones who created this narrative knew that upon Geelani’s death many would want to read his bio on Wikipedia and deliberately changed it to reflect their values and not Geelani’s.
This kind of copy pasting pattern reflect is need for the right wing community to create a narrative of their own choice and populate twitter sheerly to gain interest and engagement.