Darjeeling, July 13, 2017: Hill politics revolved around Bhanujayanti- the 203rd birth anniversary of Nepali poet Acharya Bhanubhakta on Thursday. While West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb was prevented from observing Bhanujayanti in Panighatta, Hill residents declared that they are returning State Government awards as a mark of protest and supporting the demand of Goirkhaland.
In 2016, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee accompanied by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had observed Bhanujayanti in Darjeeling. Former Gorkhaland Territorial Administration GTA) Chief Bimal Gurung, who was present at the State Government function cried foul alleging that he had been prevented from addressing the gathering.
This year with the ongoing turmoil, the State Government had not organized a function in Darjeeling. Instead Minister Deb had visited Panighatta in the Mirik sub division to observe Bhanujayanti.
2km away from Panighatta roadblocks were put up pro Gorkhaland supporters. "They attacked our convoy and even pelted stones preventing us from observing Bhanujayanti. This is a pure undemocratic act. In India all the citizens have the right to observe such occasions as per their wish." alleged Minister Deb. Tires were burnt on the roads. A photograph of the poet was placed beside the road and Deb after garlanding the photograph returned to Siliguri.
After Deb's convoy had left, pro Gorkhaland supporters vandalised a police and pelted stones at the Panighatta police outpost. "The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha does not have anything to do with this. The people of the Hills are annoyed with the West Bengal Government hence the public reacted in this manner to the Minister's visit." claimed GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri.
Amidst the ongoing indefinite bandh Bhanujayanti was commemorated at the Chowrasta in Darjeeling. On the occasion eminent literary figure from the Hills Krishna Singh Moktan declared that he is returning the Bhanuparskar awarded to him by the State Government for excellence in literature; Dr. Pravat Pradhan his Siksha Ratna Award and Karma Yonzon his Sangeet Award. In Mirik Roshan Rai declared that he will be returning his Bhanu Sahitya Samman Award.
"It is our constitutional right to demand Gorkhaland. It is the aspiration of the masses. The State Government has dubbed the Gorkhas terrorist. In protest and in support of Gorkhaland we are returning the awards which we had received from the State Government" stated Dr. Pradhan.
Acharya Bhanubhakta was born in 1841 in Western Nepal. His important works include the translation of the Ramayana into Nepali, Badhusiksha, Prashna Uttar, Bhaktamala. However the translation of Ramayan has given him an immortal status in Nepali literature whereby Ramayana became popular among the non-sanskrit knowing masses. He had passed away in 1868.
People garlanded the statue of the Nepali poet at Chowrasta. Pro Gorkhaland slogans were also raised to mark the occasion.
An emergent meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist party of Revolutionary Marxist in Darjeeling resolved that the party President RB Rai will be sitting in the fast unto death along with other leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee from Saturday for Gorkhaland. 69 year old Rai was the Rajya Sabha MP in 1989 and Lok Sabha MP in 1996.
Meanwhile Chunchun Bhutia the lone Trinamool Congress Councillor of the Darjeeling Municipality resigned from the TMC on Thursday. He is scheduled to join the GJM.
As the bandh hit the 29th day, from the wee hours of the morning there were reports of arson from all over the Hills. In close proximity of Bhanubhakta Acharya's statue, the Tourism Information office of the GTA was torched at the Chowrasta. The beat office of the forest department along with the officer's quarter and staff quarters were torched at Selimong. Forest rest house was torched at Dhotoreah.
The house of Sanjay Moktan, Chairman of the Tamang Development and Cultural Board was set on fire in Kalimpong. The revenue Inspector's office was set ablaze at Sukna. 10 goods vehicles carrying supplies to Sikkim were vandalised and the drivers roughed up by masked youths at Tarkhola on the National Highway 10 near the Sikkim state border Rongpu.
Fast unto death postponed:
The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee has postponed the fast unto death scheduled to commence on July 15.
"This is owing to Presidential elections in the country. We will use the right weapon at the right time" stated Convenor Kalyan Dewan. The Ghayabari Railway station was also torched.