As a combination of the social and traditional media spread anger like wildfire after the Sikh-police clash here in Faridkot district early Wednesday, police had no answer.
The Kotkapura clash started at about 5.30 am and, within a few minutes, the news had travelled across the state and Sikh hardliners had started mobilising protesters. Even as the older people leading the protests were not willing to give any credit to the social media for synchronised strikes, the mobile generation was generous in acknowledging the role of WhatsApp and other social-networking portals.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) activist Ranjit Singh, who was injured in the Kotkapura clash, said at Bargari later: “These are spontaneous protests that people are coming to join without any formal communication.” However, a young protester at Goniana said WhatsApp had carried the news to people and told them where to gather. The protest organisers also used traditional media of making public announcements from gurdwaras, telling people to assemble at Kotkapura.
“Aware that we wouldn’t be allowed to reach Kotkapura, the leaders advised us to protest wherever the police would stop us, so the agitation spread to several locations around the town,” said a protester at Baja Khana. Faridkot deputy commissioner MS Jaggi said the social-networking blitz was too quick for the administration to contain. “We couldn’t even check the traditional media of announcement from the gurdwaras,” he said.