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18 Jun 2017

Agitation planned on WhatsApp

The feet of Sunil Rai, one of the Morcha supporters who died allegedly during the clashes with the police in Singamari. (Passang Yolmo)
TT, Darjeeling, June 17: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders are using WhatsApp to organise the agitation and convey their messages to their supporters as they have not been able to meet and plan the strategy because of the police action.
Morcha leaders today sent to journalists via WhatsApp a recorded message of party chief Bimal Gurung where he appealed to the people of the Darjeeling hills to give a "befitting reply to Bengal's oppressive politics" by hitting the streets. The message was also circulated among Morcha supporters through WhatsApp groups created to monitor and plan the agitation.
Gurung has not been seen in public in the past few days.
Gurung urged the people in the hills to wear black badges and assemble at Chowk Bazar on Sunday for the funeral of the slain supporters.
While Gurung was away and incommunicado, Morcha assistant general secretary Binay Tamang interacted with journalists through the day and also sent WhatsApp messages and pictures to groups of party leaders and supporters.
Tamang made it clear that the Morcha would not hold talks with the state government and appealed to the chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the development boards to resign from their posts.
"We have not been able to sit together to strategise, but thousands of people have responded to our call for a march to Patlebas today from across the hills," a Morcha leader said.
The police have succeeded in scattering the Morcha leadership in the past few days as part of a plan to weaken the agitation.
The sources said the Morcha leadership had created various groups on WhatsApp with supporters and local people so that their messages could be spread immediately.
"The call for today's march was largely circulated through WhatsApp. The supporters were informed only last evening but the response was overwhelming," a Morcha leader said, adding that using the messaging app was "safer" than making phone calls, which could be tracked.
"We believe that the phones of most of the top leaders are being tapped. We also believe that phone calls can be used to trace individuals," the leader said.
The WhatsApp messages that were circulated last evening announcing the march had the names and phone numbers of 10 leaders with whom participants would have to communicate.

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