Political sparring over an event organised by the ruling BJP amid India-Pakistan tensions inspired the hashtag #MeraJawanSabseMajboot, which outdid its rivals on Twitter's trending list on Thursday by its sheer simplicity and stickiness. It was born as a counter to #MeraBoothSabseMajboot, the BJP's tagline for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video conference with millions of party workers ahead of the national election due by May.
The hashtag turned out to be quite versatile. Within hours, it was being used by those supporting the Narendra Modi government's decision to launch air strikes on terror camps in Pakistan as well as others who did not favour the escalation of tensions between the two countries.
A user on Twitter, Hrishikesh Saikia, posted a photograph of Pakistan Lieutenant-General AAK Niazi signing the instrument of surrender under Indian Lieutenant General JS Aurora's gaze after the 1971 war, captioning it with the word "Again" apparently to suggest that Pakistan had decided to release captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman under pressure from India. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said in a parliamentary address that his government would return the pilot on Friday as a "gesture of peace".
Another user, Aastha Varma, claimed that Pakistan was acting in a hypocritical manner by blacking out Karachi, stopping the Samjhauta Express, violating the ceasefire at 6 am and 1 pm, encroaching into Indian air space and making false declarations in the press conference, all the while talking about "restraint and peace".
Others simply celebrated Pakistan's decision to release the pilot or accused the ruling BJP of exploiting the situation for political mileage. Sneh Pandit tweeted a video of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announcing that Wing Commander Varthaman would be released soon, and captioned it with the question: "Has Modi started taking credit for this yet in his ongoing election rallies???"
"#Abhinandan will be Released tomorrow by Pak as a Peace Gesture! He is Our Jaanbaaz Jawan, who was Flying MIG 21 & shot down F 16 of Pakistan," tweeted one Aarti.
Another person tweeted a video of Brian Toon, professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, explaining how a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could affect continents as far away as Europe.
#MeraJawanSabseMajboot— (@TheYogeshThakur) February 28, 2019
What would happen after a nuclear war between India and Pakistan
Brian Toon, professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder pic.twitter.com/C1OURLYDFA
The Indian military has rejected Imran Khan's claim that his government was releasing the pilot -- captured on Wednesday after his fighter jet crashed beyond the Pakistan border -- in an effort to de-escalate the situation. It maintains that the neighbouring country was supposed to do so under the Geneva Convention anyway.