To begin with, my real name is not Suhasni. Yes, I know, it should be spelled ‘Suhasini’, with an ‘i’. You must be new to social media. Here, learn from the master. Deliberate mistakes make a fake Facebook profile look ordinary,and therefore, less suspicious. This ‘mistake’ was to give my guinea-pigs the impression that this profile was not created by some super humanly intelligent person such as I. As they say, to err is human, and what can be more human and more endearing than being sloppy.
Also, my real surname is not Pandita. Though born into a surname commonly shared by the Muslims and Pandits from the valley of Kashmir, my real surname wasn’t suitable for this profile. Basically, apart from hiding my real identity, I wanted to create a fake profile that screams out “KASHMIRI PANDIT!”at my audience. Sure, some Muslims also have ‘Pandit’ as their surname, but ‘Pandita’ with the ‘a’ is guaranteed to be Brahminical Kashmiri.
So, ‘Pandita’ it was. Suhasni Pandita: the antithesis of Rahul Pandita, that famous Kashmiri Pandit writer (and I will tell you why later).
Before I recount my adventures under my new assumed identity and share with you the findings from my new social media experiment, let me give you a backgrounder. Suhasni Pandita by no means is my first fake Facebook profile; there have been dozens before it.
If you are from the valley of Kashmir, you would be familiar with the doublespeak. Living in a conflict zone with a constant threat from the militants and their stooges has made us Kashmiri Muslims reserve our real opinions in public.The easiest and most risk-free thing to do in the valley is to openly support separatism or Azadi. Being smart and intelligent, I always take the most convenient path.
And though I support Azadi openly in real life,I had a problem in revealing my real identity online. This is because, alongside ardently supporting Azadi, I do contractual work for an Indian agency (now don’t ask which). In fact, my time is split between Srinagar and New Delhi. As you can imagine, my open separatism with my real identity online could jeopardize my business with the Indian agency (never going to tell you which).
Nevertheless, I like to tell myself that I am not being hypocritical by hunting with the hounds and running with the hares because I also try to mislead the hounds once in a while. In fact, I have found my own ways of making the occupational forces pay.You can be sure that the work I do at exorbitant rates for the Indian agency is way substandard. Corruption is also a mode of resistance. I have no moral contradictions or hang-ups, whatsoever; it is with a clear conscience that I cheat them.
You might say I have multiple fake identities in real life as well, or that I have a split personality. No, it just means that each of my fake avatars is as smart and clever as I am in real life. To paraphrase that clichéd saying, “Behind every successful fake profile is a real man.” (Now don’t tell me I am not man enough to be myself. Have you seen my wife? No? Then shut up and don’t judge me on my character.)
I am a brave undercover double-agent: The name is Pandita. SuhasniPandita. Double-agents, incidentally, are the only successful agents in Kashmir; they keep all sides happy.
Some of the time, at least.
Before I talk of my Suhasni stint, let me also brief you on my activities under the various fake Muslim profiles I created. Basically, as a supporter of Kashmiri separatism, I believe in the power of the majority. And I happen to be a majority of one, with a dozen fake profiles (my clones or avatars) as incontrovertible proof of my majority.
All my avatars would literally gang up against anyone who criticises separatism on Facebook. My avatars would happily agree with ‘each other’, while condemning, humiliating, and even threatening the critic. ‘We’ would get all the likes and the beleaguered critic would withdraw from the debate. Darpokbhagoda. Retreat, even though it may be due to disgust and not fear, is what counts as a ‘defeat’ on social media. You really must be a newbie.
All my Muslim avatars were doing great, individually as well as collectively. My avatars were a pantheon, so to speak, much adulated by the separatists online. Were. Alas, over time, my ‘friends’ on Facebook, one-by-one, became wary of my avatars. These ‘friends’ (curse be upon them) distanced themselves from me; even unfriending and blocking me.
Feeling busted, I became paranoid and deactivated all those accounts (may they rest in peace). Sometimes I felt that the promises of VPN anonymity by app creators were fake as well. How else could these ‘friends’suspect my genuineness, when I was as genuine a separatist in my fake profiles as in my real life. Did they trace all those accounts to my IP address? I wondered.
Make no mistake: I take my own time in cultivating each fake profile; I wait until a profile gathers some couple of hundred ‘friends’. I wait until my ‘friends’ think they know me well and feel compelled to wish me on my fake birth date. Then how come a con artist such as I, who enacts such an elaborate confidence trick, be suspected at all?
That took even a smart man like me a while to understand.
My genuineness was questioned by my Facebook ‘friends’, not because of the fakery of my profiles (which I had meticulously concealed); it had to do with my so-called fake love for the minorities, namely, the Kashmiri Pandits, who constituted a bulk of my ‘friends’ and my target audience. They simply couldn’t believe that a supporter of Kashmiri separatism can be genuinely secular.
It is easier to find the vein of a black buffalo for intravenous dextrose infusion, than for a separatist who yearns for Pakistan or a Caliphate to convince a Pandit ‘friend’ of the secular character of the tehreek-e-azadi or of the superiority of Sharia Laws over the Indian Constitution. Every time we mention Nizam-e-Mustafa, they ask that irritating question: “What about Kashmiri Pandits?” This, despite telling them that we will give them full rights as dhimmis. Some people are incorrigible and non-convertible, I tell you. Ekdum kutte ki dum.
Yet, the tehreek-e-azadi of Kashmiri Sunni Muslims (at least some of us) needs to have at least a few Pandits endorsing its righteousness and secular character. Why? So that we can use these few Pandits to convince the world that azadi indeed is a righteous and secular demand of a diverse group of people living in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Additionally, these few Pandits can also be employed to white-wash the fact that the militant separatists put them in such a terrifying situation that the entire minority community had to flee their homes starting 1989 and remove the taint of communalism on the separatists.
Alas, Pandits who endorse and champion the call of azadi are nowhere to be found. The one or two Pandits, who actually do champion azadi, do not have even a single Pandit fan or follower. None at all. Zero. This ‘odd couple’, Pandits by name only, born and brought up outside Kashmir, never experienced the exodus and are easily dismissed by all the Pandits as ‘impersonators’ or as‘ISI agents’. Besides,a careerist Leftist-Islamist stooge with own axe to grind is not as valuable a trophy as a genuinely convinced and converted one, who, in turn, can convert a few more gullible Pandits.
Despite all my public display of affection, I finally realised that all these Pandit ‘friends’, whether Leftists or Congress or Jan Sanghis, will continue to be paranoid about the tehreek, given their near-fatal history with it, and would only support the demand for azadi when hell freezes over.
Thinking of all the time I have invested in convincing them of the justness of tehreek-e-azadi and my genuinely great brotherly love for them, all I can say now is that these Pandits are infidel ingrates, hate-mongers, and backstabbers who have lost their Kashmiriyat. Shame on them!
Giving up on these Pandit ‘friends’, finally I said now enough is not enough. The tehreek needed a few separatist Pandits fast and no convincing was going to win them over. So I took things in my own hands (no pun intended) and embarked on the journey of personally becoming the Ideal Pandit ‘friend’.
Since my target audience that I wanted to convert would naturally have to be stupid and gullible, the Ideal Pandit, from the perspective of the separatist, needed to have these traits: an ordinary endearingly stupid and sloppy Pandit who makes spelling mistakes of her name (females get more followers, you newbie); a dizzy airhead who buys, endorses, and shares all the separatist lies and propaganda wholesale; a fire-brand tehreeki Pandita who viciously attacks Pandits who actively oppose the tehreek like that writer Rahul Pandita; a good-hearted Pandit who, but for her name and surname, has so much hatred for her community that she might pass off as a Muslim separatist.
You guessed it, newbie: my social media experiment is an euphemism for using deceit to spread separatist propaganda to naïve and gullible Pandits and other Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris who don’t know better.“If a Pandit is also agreeing with the separatists, it must be true, no?”
Author’s bio: Suhasni Pandita is a genuinely fake person. Any resemblance to any person living or dead may not be coincidental, as she has to steal some real person’s identity once in a while to fatten her profile and make it look genuine. In case of any resemblance to a real person, she apologizes in advance. Or better still, she will just deactivate her Facebook account and resurface as SekshiPandita.