Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, June 14, 1999 Published at 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK

World: South Asia

Battling it out on the Net

Indians are following the Kashmir conflict on the Internet

By BBC Correspondent David Willis

Cricket is one battlefield for arch-rivals India and Pakistan, but a more serious battle is currently taking place between the two countries over Kashmir.

Kashmir Conflict
For three weeks now, India has been pounding targets in the Himalayas in an attempt to quell what it describes as an armed occupation of its land, backed by Pakistan.

But the present conflict is different to many others that have taken place between the two countries, because it is being fought not just on the battlefront, but through the media - and particularly through the Internet.

Listen to the report by David Willis
Down a dusty side street in Delhi, past a row of beggars and a beauty parlour, next to a car repair shop and down in the basement - lies one of the mushrooming number of 'Internet cafes' in Delhi.

Many young Indians have been stopping by to send e-mails to troops on the frontline.

[ image: A young Indian displays a message to frontline troops]
A young Indian displays a message to frontline troops
One of them, Geeta, tapped out her simple message. "God bless you, you the children of our motherland who are defending our country. God will reward the righteous and will be with you to fight against the enemy. God is Great," she wrote.

Harry Herren, the manager of this cyber café, says other customers are simply seeking the latest information from the battlefront.

"It is like being there. They can see better photographs, the kind that are not available in newspapers are easily published on the web," he said.

There are other uses as well.

"A lot of Indians living in the US have started collecting money for people affected by the war, all through the Internet," he said.

Information is power

[ image: India has been holding Nato-style briefings]
India has been holding Nato-style briefings
Such a free flow of information has put new pressure on those whose job it is to explain the government's position.

India has been holding Nato-style daily briefings to drive home its version of events.

They are chaired by senior civil servant Raminder Singh Jassal, who has become well aware that Information is power.

"It is a weapon depending on how you use it. You can abuse it for purposes like Pakistan has done. Or you can use it to reiterate the actual situation and to reassure the people that this is what has happened and this is how we are dealing with it," Mr Jassal said. "Information is important."

Battle of the airwaves

The audience for news is phenomenal across the vast country. State broadcaster Doordarshan reaches up to 600 million people, whilst newcomer Star - which recently launched a 24-hour news channel on cable - is gradually building its own audience.

Senior Star TV correspondent, Vikram Chandra, says presenting one's case on television is going to become more important in the next few years.

"Indians have always been information junkies to some extent and even in the smallest villages you will find people surprisingly well-informed, not just about local issues but state issues, national issues and once in a while even international issues," he said.

In the Intemet café, more messages were tapped out to the troops in Kashmir. "We are praying that you'll return victorious and make us proud to be Indians," read one.

For the first time in the long history of the conflict between these two nations, the electronic media - and particularly cyberspace - may well make all the difference.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

10 Jun 99 | South Asia
Kashmir: Was India caught out?

10 Jun 99 | South Asia
India reinforces in Kashmir

16 Oct 98 | South Asia
Indian army Website ambushed

24 Oct 98 | Monitoring
Cyberwarfare breaks out on internet

05 Oct 98 | Sci/Tech
India opens virtual front in Kashmir

Internet Links

Indian Ministry of External Affairs

Indian Armed Forces

Press Information Bureau of India


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Sharif: I'm innocent

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

From Sport
Saqlain stars in Aussie collapse

Pakistan fears Afghan exodus

Hindu-Buddhist conference in Nepal

Afghan clerics issue bin Laden fatwa

Culture awards at Asian festival

Gandhi pleads for husband's killer

UN condemns Afghan bombing

Gandhi prize for Bangladeshi