Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Commoners not in sync, but Facebook goes viral

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By Our Reporter

 Shillong: The present situation which has created a climate of uncertainty does not have the sanction of a large number of the State’s population, particularly those earning daily wages.

A domestic help, M Wanniang of Umpling said such upheavals are expected since the State is heading towards elections. An old lady selling fruit to passers by near the Mawlai gas filling station who probably earns a few rupees daily said this sort of situation helps no one.

At Iewduh, most shopkeepers were tense lest they have to shut their shops at short notice, There was an air of uncertainty even as people tried to go about their daily business. But they seemed reassured by the presence of police personnel around the market.

Parents too seemed unsure about whether to send their kids to school lest trouble breaks out.

“We don’t seem to leave behind those dark days of 1979, 1986 and 1992. There are some who insist on reviving those ugly memories of Shillong,” said an agitated parent.

Those in the tourism sector, especially those who have availed of the government scheme for bed and breakfast accommodation wonder why life cannot get back to normal and people be allowed to earn their daily bread.

“Those who pick on the government for every conceivable reason should learn to observe the rules of the game. If someone feels a non-Indian has been enrolled then he should file an objection. In a democracy we cannot hold the government at gun point,” a tour operator said.

Many wonder at the timing of this whole imbroglio.

But the medium to watch out for is Facebook (FB). For the last few days a section of lumpen elements have used Facebook to vent their anger. Virulent comments against a particular community have turned Facebook into an emotional cauldron. Interestingly the HNLC has also jumped into this muddle and is beginning to post comments that are inflammatory and emotive.

The pictures posted are equally potent and provocative. Someone posted a picture of flames of fire and said this is how those “who usurp our rights” have to be burnt.”

While Facebook is a medium for free speech, it could turn into an instrument for communal conflict where hate messages are ‘liked’ and more hate messages pour in.

Interestingly, the huge constituency of young professionals from Shillong now based in the metros have a completely different view of the situation. A young lady now based in Mumbai and doing business there has been away from Shillong for almost 15 years.

She says, “Yesterday’s incident in Jaiaw has upset a lot of people. If you’d like to hear the news straight from the horse’s mouth, please visit my page Shillong. I have 100+ people discussing about it. It has gone viral. It would be nice if you could sit down and read what people are actually saying about the situation in our state. People are angry, hurt and restless. They are getting tired of political leaders and unions who are just using them to fight their wars for their own selfish ambitions. Many of us are willing to be friendlier and global for personal and business reasons, however this will be hard to achieve as long as these guys run the show.”

Others in the national capital said they are not surprised by such uprisings. A scholar based in Delhi said, “Some organisations have survived by picking on these ticklish issues at peculiar moments in our history. We are amazed that our people continue to look up to these organisations as saviours. But it is our political class that has let us down and created a vacuum where such interest groups can operate. At the end they too are playing politics.”

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