By Ram Khatry, Sydney
18 June 2017
Winner of the 3rd season of Indian Idol has blacked out his Facebook profile picture in support of Gorkhaland movement, an escalating movement of Nepalese-speaking Indians with roots in and around Darjeeling hills. The longstanding demand for a separate statehood recently turned violent with three protesters dead on Saturday. Scores of Indian security personnel have sustained injuries as they clash with angry Gorkhaland agitators.
In a voice message sent to southasia.com.au, Prashant Tamang said the “blackout” that he has used as his Facebook profile picture was his “civilised” way of protesting against the state government’s crackdown on the hills people’s demand for Gorkhaland.
“This is totally wrong, whatever they are doing to our people in the hills. So I really protest (against) that,” he said in a voice message sent in response to a query from southasia.com.au.
“This is a movement for our land. This is a movement for our rights. This is a movement for our people who were killed yesterday. This is a movement for Gorkhaland, the land we deserve, the land we have been fighting for for decades,” Mr Tamang further added.
He wholeheartedly supported the ongoing Gorkhaland movement, the singer said.
Although the current Gorkhaland movement is purported to be a peaceful movement, there was a time when the people of Darjeeling resorted to violence to carve themselves a state out of West Bengal. Over one thousand lives were lost when Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) led by Subash Ghising launched violent agitation in 1986.
The current agitation is no doubt harming the tourism industry of the idyllic hills station with reports indicating thousands of tourists packing their bags in the wake of the violence protest.