BLACKOUT IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GORKHALAND MOVEMENT

June 19, 2017

Gangok, 18 Jun:

Social media users took to Facebook and Instagram in the hours following the death of three people in the violence that took place in Darjeeling on Tuesday to protest against Mamata Banerjee and the West Bengal Government with a black box in place of a profile picture.

Pegged #WeSupportGorkhaland, the movement, which is quickly gaining traction online, is a way to "create unity" among a seemingly divided people. Here are some of our favorite Facebook statuses regarding the issue so far.

Local YouTuber and journalist, Yougan Tamang took to Facebook and wrote- “The videos of #Darjeelingunrest floating on social media and the numbers of videos sent to our media house by our followers are so disturbing me that I am even failing to upload or update on our page. Had I even thought in my life that I would see my neighbour weeping in pain, Darjeeling crying. I am so numb at this point while updating this post, can't express the level of frustration I am having for now. Deeply in anguish, I express that the Centre has to act now and let our people have their land Gorkhaland. I am in a state of shock today after seeing some board members from Darjeeling attending the meeting called by Mamta at Kolkata. I am frustrated today when the people's movement is being related to terrorism by the so called CM of West Bengal. I feel handicapped today when I see the media reporting with tips and toes with the state and being bias in all aspects. Nothing can set me free for now. So frustrated I am. I stand for Darjeeling! I stand for Gorkhaland!”

Anujay Rai wrote: “May gorkhas remain peaceful, May khukuris not be provoked to harm. #gorkhaland #jaigorkha #ourcauseisbeautiful #seperationfrombengal #maypeaceprevail”

Local reporter, Rebyna Rana uploaded this as her facebook status- “A big salute to those three brave souls who laid down their lives for the cause of Gorkhaland. May God rest their souls in peace.”

The guitarist of Agyaat, Sharad Dipesh uploaded a photo with the caption: “You love our tea, You love our toy-train but what about the people?”

Founder of NE Taxi, Rewaj Chettri wrote: “Thought it was just politics until today but firing at innocent people is not acceptable. I stand for Gorkhaland.”

The last time people made their profile pic in Facebook and Instagram black was in November 2016 when Donald Trump was elected the President of the United States of America.

The main reason why the matter escalated anew was the West Bengal government’s decision on May 18 to make Bengali compulsory in all schools including the Hills. The GJM then called a strike on 01-02 June to protest the government’s decision. The tension between the WB government and GJM finally went out of hand on 08 Jun when Darjeeling boiled down in violence and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with the security forces of the state government.

The violence has led to many complex emotions and reactions among the masses and as is so often the case these days, social media has become the go-to outlet for those feelings. With many Gorkhas feeling betrayed by the West Bengal government the #WeSupportGorkhaland  Facebook blackout hashtag is one way they've been able to express that sentiment.

The Centre has called tripartite talks on 19 June to discuss the Gorkhaland Territorial Authority. GJM, however, has said that it will attend the talks only if a separate State is discussed. Various companies of the Army and Central forces have been deployed in neighbouring Darjeeling, besides a huge contingent of the State police and the top-brass of the WB police force.

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