Over the last few days, ‘jallikattu’ has been a trending topic on Facebook with over 1 million posts on the subject. The hashtags ‘#WeDoJalikattu’ and ‘#JalikattuProtest’ continue to get traction. A number of photos and videos of activity happening at protest venues across the State and elsewhere are being shared on WhatsApp.
The role that social media has played in mobilising the crowd and spreading information on the protest has been large, acknowledge many volunteers at Marina beach which has seen the largest crowd in the State protesting for the issue.
On Twitter, an analytics tool shows that the hashtag #WeDoJalikattu had the maximum mentions on January 20. Apart from protesters, celebrities too have been active on social media platforms, lending their support to the protest.
“Following a protest in Delhi by a few social activists, we decided to focus on the issue . Many groups, including ours, were involved in organising a rally on January 8 at Marina and the crowds we saw really surprised us,” said G. Gautham, the founder of the Facebook page ‘Chennai Memes’ which has over 6.5 lakh followers.
His page is one among the many pages on Facebook which have been carrying out an organised campaign about the protests. It has been calling out for volunteers, requesting food and medical care.
“Memes, we have found, are the easiest way to reach out to people now. They were being shared actively on WatsApp as well and our team has now been focussed on covering the protests in every part of the world through our members who have been sending videos and photos,” he said.
People like N. Balaji, an entrepreneur from Coimbatore ,who has been involved in the protests said that the Facebook ‘Live’ option was extremely useful for them. “A lot of students have joined us after seeing posts on social media about the issue at hand. A lot of people organically contributed to the hashtags on Facebook and Twitter and gave the issue a wider reach from Chennai across the State,” he said.
Rajiv Rajaram, Founder and Creative Director of ‘Put Chutney’, said the numbers seen at the protests were indicative of the fact that people were just not keyboard warriors. “A lot of the debate which was happening online about the issue has now translated to the peaceful protests we are seeing now. Chennai in particular, has always made the best use of social media and volunteering as was seen with the floods in December 2015 and more recently, cyclone Vardah,” he noted.