Sarabjit Singh, an Indian citizen has been in solitary confinement in Pakistan for the last 22 years. Sarabjit who claims to be a poor farmer has been declared as a terrorist by the Pakistani authorities. The authorities consider him as Manjit Singh claimed to be involved in the 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people. However, Sarabjit and his family deny the facts and say that it is a case of mistaken identity and since then the family has been fighting for his release. ((Information sourced from Wikipedia)) Infact the Pakistan Government had recently announced the releasing of Sarabjit Singh but it later turned out to be a goof up and another prisoner Surjeet Singh was released. This goof up that caused embarrassment for the Pakistan Government has ignited the debate of Sarabjit Singh’s release in the country. As a result Bollywood actor, Salman Khan has come forward to start an online campaign for the release of Sarabjit Singh as reported by Times Of India, Mumbai.
Campaigns to free Sarabjit Singh:
Salman Khan who has been quite popular with his activities via his NGO, Being Human has started the online campaign under the same initiative. The campaign designed on the Being Human website will ask for your name and email id to be filled. In addition to the online campaign, Salman Khan and his team are also creating awareness via Facebook. Although the team has not created a separate presence for this campaign on social media but it is promoting under the social media presence of Being Human. The Facebook page which has posted an update on the initiative has got some good response from the fans but it remains to be seen how many would be willing to help.
Along with Salman Khan’s campaign, Jas Uppal a British lawyer has been running an online campaign from 2009 under the name of “freesarabjeet.com”. The site which is an ongoing campaign to create awareness about the mistaken identity of Sarabjit, has also made it’ presence felt on social media. The Facebook group that had been started to create awareness has got more than 300 members. The group is filled with updates about the campaign and the news surrounding Sarabjit Singh. In addition to Facebook, the campaign has also created presence on Twitter. The Twitter page, which has more than 450 followers, is also trying to create awareness but fails in comparison to Facebook.
How could the campaigns be better
Both the initiatives are for the same cause so why do we need different campaigns. Salman Khan could have easily supported the initiative that is being run by Jas Uppal. Nevertheless, the campaign that has been launched by Salman Khan in its present state is more of a vanilla campaign for the following reasons:
1. The campaign that has been created on the website lacks information. Adding a counter along with the petition would motivate people and sharing on social media sites could get more awareness too.
2. Being Human has an amazing presence on Facebook with 975K fans so it would have made more sense if they had created a Facebook app. The app would have not only allowed signing the petition but could have provided badges of the campaign to showcase to your friends. Possibilities could have been more if an app was designed on Facebook.
3. Freesarabjeet.com campaign definitely is a better one and has involved a lot of hard work. I support the move of having a Facebook group in such cases, as you would have more dedicated people in a closed group. However, the Twitter strategy seems to be not working for them so it would be better if they could improve it or concentrate on Facebook alone.
Nevertheless these campaigns will increase the pressure on both the Governments to think about the man who is behind bars for last 22 years for not committing any crime. And a celebrity like Salman Khan endorsing this movement will definitely give some push to this ongoing fight by Sarbajeet’s family and his loved ones.
Do you think celebrities endorsing social causes is the new trend or they can really use their influential powers amongst the society to bring change like Aamir Khan has been doing via Satyamev Jayate?