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19 Jun 2017

Clampdown on Internet

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 18: Internet services across the hills have been suspended after The Telegraph reported today that the scattered Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership was successfully devising strategies through WhatsApp.
This is the first time that an embargo was imposed on Internet services, including mobile data, in the hills.
The Morcha said it wouldn't be affected by the ban and the state government was trying to create a Kashmir-like situation in the hills.
The communication blackout is quite common in the restive Kashmir where youngsters connect with each other through Internet and descend on roads to take on security forces.
Since early this morning, data services were snapped by telecom companies, barring BSNL and Reliance. However, by noon, they, too, had discontinued the services.
Even though police had managed to scatter the Morcha leadership through crackdowns, the party's office-bearers were in touch with cadres and journalists, largely through WhatsApp and other social media forums.
The administration was mum on the blackout, but sources have confirmed that the services will be restored only on Tuesday.
Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha, said the party's communication modes were not confined to Internet. "They are trying to create a Kashmir-like situation. This is also an infringement on human rights. The government's move has once again ruffled the feathers of people in the hills and is further swelling emotions against the authorities."
He said it would be wrong to think that the Morcha leadership would not be able to communicate without Internet services. "It was of great help but we have many ways to communicate. It would be silly for the government to think that we would be in disarray with the suspension of Internet services," said Tamang.
Many people spoke to The Telegraph and said the state had stretched things a bit too much. "It is as if an Emergency has been declared in the hills. If the state believes a clampdown on Internet and bringing in forces would stop the Gorkhaland emotion, they are surely being wrongly advised. The move is sending all wrong messages," said a state government employee.

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