‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’. I have heard this line parroted by leaders of all political hues. It has always sounded like an arbitrary statement designed to rebuff Pakistan, and to reaffirm India’s military might over a coveted geographical area. Recently I came across facts that have changed my perspective on Kashmir totally. Facts that have astounded me. But more than that baffled me, for they reveal glaring lacunae in the history we have been led to believe so far. This is the introductory paragraph to an article which has supposedly been written by author and academic Ira Pande. This ‘article’ has gone viral on social media ever since it made its appearance online, and has been shared widely on Facebook. It has also circulated on WhatsApp.

Among those who have shared this write-up is Francois Gautier, infamous journalist and ‘indologist’ of Nostradamus fame. He posted it on July 1, 2018 and was shared over 450 times. However, the write-up shared by Gautier is not credited to Ira Pande and does not mention her name, although the text is identical to what has been circulated in her name. Instead, the text that Gautier has shared has been ascribed to one Dr. V S Karnik.

Dr V S Karnik,
‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’. Why is Kashmir so important to India? The facts will astound you…

Posted by Francois Gautier on Saturday, June 30, 2018

The write-up lists the historical and cultural accomplishments of Kashmir which justify its place as ‘an integral part of India’, and also talks about how the educational system in the country has deliberately ignored the truth about Kashmir.

It states, “Understandable that the British established a syllabus for us that was designed to obliterate our glories and inculcate shame in us for all things Indian. But, 70 years past independence, we are guilty of still toeing their line. Why????? The facts I speak of are proof that Kashmir is the fountainhead from which flows our culture, in fact everything that defines our identity as Indians. Due to my education in an elite school, i had considered myself reasonably well  informed. Yet, i had no clue at all about the significance of Kashmir vis a vis Indian history…” There are numerous references, from Panini the grammarian to Rajatarangini and the spread of Mahayana Buddhism by monks from Kashmir. The write-up attempts to build a case for the legitimacy of India’s claim over Kashmir on the basis of deep cultural and historical links. Apart from being shared widely on social media, the write-up has also been published on some obscure websites.

The earliest instance of this write-up appearing online that Alt News could find was a post by a Facebook user Nishi Agarwal dated June 22, 2018.

NOT WRITTEN BY IRA PANDE

There is obviously nothing problematic about articulating a viewpoint. The issue of concern here is that Ira Pande who is credited with having written this article has in fact not written it. The write-up has been falsely ascribed to her. This was clarified by Amitabha Pande, Ira Pande’s husband, via a Facebook post.

Friends, everyone,
There is a fake article on Kashmir which has gone viral on WhatsApp which has been attributed to my…

Posted by Amitabha Pande on Friday, July 20, 2018

Recently, a similar case had emerged wherein an ‘article’ criticising the Gandhi family and the Congress party over the no-confidence motion introduced in the Lok Sabha was ascribed to senior journalist Mark Tully, which later turned out to be untrue. This is a new tactic that seems to be emerging within the misinformation ecosystem whereby credibility is sought to be injected to political assertions by crediting write-ups to authoritative figures.

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Such an detailed and nice information