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Kashmir's social network KashBook is no more, and not because of the government

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 9 August 2017, 18:13 IST
(KashBook screengrab)

The ongoing turmoil in Kashmir has lead to a ban on social media networks. However, the ban sparked the ingenuity of two young Kashmiri men, leading to the creation of Kashmir's very own social media network – KashBook. First developed back in 2013, the KashBook was relaunched in May 201 7 to bypass the social media ban in the Valley. Just months on from this though, KashBook is officially no more.

While most would jump to the conclusion that it must be a result of government interference, the truth is both less dramatic and more depressing. KashBook c o-founders, Uzair Jan and Zeyan Shafiq, have gotten into a tussle over fame and pride. The result means that KashBook has ceased to exist, with a revival extremely unlikely. Shafiq confirmed to Catch that the website and app are no more, and that the domain name will be sold off.

The bitter end

Since it was re-launched in mid-May, KashBook quickly gained in popularity, with a number of people in Kashmir taking to the app. Shafiq was in Kashmir at the time, while Jan was in Chandigarh for his exams. “Both of us developed and launched the app together, but it is Zeyan who is getting the fame and media attention since I was in Chandigarh for my exams," Jan told Rising Kashmir ( http://www.risingkashmir.com/news/co-founders-of-kashbook-battle-for-fame ). “I am the one who worked day and night for this Kash app; I was involved in handling everything from server migration to all technical aspects of this app."

Aaccording to Shafiq , Jan's anger stems from not being invited to events, as well as media reports which only quoted Shafiq. Jan believes this was all Shafiq's fault. Furthermore, Jan claims that while the idea for the app was Shafiq's, all the hard work was done by him. Shafiq invested but everything else was under Jan's control. The tipping point may have come at an event in NIT Srinagar where Shafiq was labelled the 'Mark Zuckerberg' of Kashmir.

Shafiq's father claims that KashBook belongs to his son. Jan, on his part, has challenged Shafiq to "an encounter" over the handling of the app, to see if he is able to handle it on his own.

Azkaban screengrab

On 6 August, Shafiq took to Facebook claiming that GoDaddy had changed his account details and that Jan was starting a new project called Azkaban.

Azkaban screengrab

Shafiq then asked Jan to hand him back access to the site. Their exchanges post this are a good indicator about just how ugly the spat has become.

Post Raksha Bandhan, Shafiq posted again saying that Jan was trying to defame KashBook with a number of fake Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. In this post, he goes on to claim that Jan had only designed KashBook's user interface, calling his abilities into question.

In yet another Facebook post, Shafiq focuses on the Kahmir Monitor article, discrediting the claims Jan made in it. Here, he claims that Jan wanted to remain out of the limelight because he was worried he may get attacked while in Chandigarh.

Futhermore, Shafiq launched a personal attack, accusing Jan of being "high while giving the interview."

Finally, on 8 August, Shafiq posted to say that KashBook is no more and that the dream is over. Both Jan and Shafiq agreed to the termination of the site after a meeting.

The rise and fall of KashBook

Back in May, Shafiq told Catch News that both Jan and him together worked on restarting KashBook and got it to where it is today. After the launch of the app, the number of users exploded from 130 odd to 1,500 plus.

KashBook worked without the need for a VPN and anytime a serve of theirs got blacklisted, two of them would instantly jump into action and change the server, allowing for KashBook to remain accessible.

KashBook's main aim was to help Kashmiris stay connected. At that point, the two of them decided to never shutdown KashBook. Sadly though, just three months later, the social network is no more.

We've reached out to both Shafiq and Jan for more details on the fight, Azkaban, and if there is any chance they will reconcile. This story will be updated as and when they respond.

First published: 9 August 2017, 18:13 IST
 
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.

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