Cloud of uncertainty in the Hills over fate of the ongoing bandh
Kurseong, August 31: Uncertainty and fear of clashes looms large over the Darjeeling Hills with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Chief Coordinator Binay Tamang announcing the withdrawal of the indefinite bandh from September 1 and GJM President Bimal Gurung threatening to stringently impose the bandh from that day.
The announcements have brought the split in the GJM to the fore. Following Tamang's announcement of the lifting of the bandh, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri announced from Delhi that Tamang has been removed from the post of Chief Coordinator.
"We will hold an emergent Central Committee meeting in the Hills on Friday. The meeting
will decide on the expulsion of Binay Tamang and Central Committee member Anit Thapa from the party" added Giri.
Incidentally, Tamang on August 29 had led a 5 member GJM team to Kolkata. The team had attended a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabannya, the West Bengal Secretariat over the Hill impasse.
On Thursday, Tamang along with GJM central committee member Anit Thapa who was part of the team returning from Kolkata, addressed a GJM rally in Kurseong. This was followed by a GJM central committee meeting.
"The ongoing indefinite bandh is being lifted from September 1 to September 12. On September 12 there is another round of talks with the State Government. We will again press for Gorkhaland. If there is no positive response then we will decided the future course of action to be taken from September 13. It could be a bandh or any other form of
agitation to create pressure on the Government" stated Tamang.
He stated that the Gorkhaland movement including the daily rallies will continue in the Hills. The indefinite bandh touched the 78 day mark on Thursday.
"There is a dearth of food. Education institutions are closed. Situation is worse in the shut tea gardens. 8 people are dead; 145 injured and 114 of our supporters and leaders in jail. In a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on 13 August, Minister
Singh had requested us to lift the ongoing fast unto death and the indefinite bandh. In the Kolkata meeting on August 20, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee requested us to lift the bandh in order to restore normalcy and peace. It is for the first time Mamata Banerjee
acknowledged Gorkhaland as a constitutional demand" added Tamang.
The GJM Chief Coordinator stated that in an earlier meeting with the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC - a conglomeration of pro Gorkhaland outfits ) meeting the constituent parties had resolved that they would agree to any decision adopted by the GJM regarding the indefinite bandh.
Tamang claimed that out of the 93 member Central Committee around 30 members had attended Thursday's central committee meeting in Kurseong.
"It is an emergent meeting and the leaders who are available attended. Many leaders have gone into hiding with police cases against them. We will communicate the decision of this meeting to GJM President Bimal Gurung."
On the heels of Tamang's announcement, Gurung talking to media persons over the phone from an undisclosed location stated, "The bandh will be imposed stringently from Friday. Binay Tamang and Anish Thapa have betrayed us. They went to meet West Bengal Ministers. They have sided with the Government. They have not taken my consent to hold the Central Committee meeting. They should have met me on arrival from Kolkata instead of addressing the rally. If there is any unrest in the Hills from Friday, Tamang and Thapa will be to blame. We have decided to initiate stringent action against them."
Gurung had declared that the bandh would continue till Gorkhaland is not discussed in Government meetings. With Tamang's announcement, The Gurung faction took our rallies in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. Posters were also put up at the Darjeeling Chowk Bazar area.
Earlier Tamang addressed a public rally in Kurseong and stated that henceforth the agitation will be fought with the brains.
"Till now the agitation was being fought with the heart and now it will be fought with the brain. There has to be a change in strategy. We are pressuring our own people with the bandhs. Instead we have to pressurize the Government" remarked Tamang.
Tamang at the rally had put to rest speculations of floating a new party.
"We owe allegiance to the GJM and will always continue doing so. We will not float a new party. We are the founding members of the GJM and will always remain in the GJM even if we are thrown out of the party. We will all work united for Gorkhaland" stated Tamang.
Tamang addressing the rally stated that Gurung was being misled by some people within the party.
"People like Pravin Subba, Dipen Maley, Prakash Gurung are misleading him in order to create a rift with us. If Gurung feels that we have betrayed the party and the cause; he should make the evidences public," stated Tamang.
He alleged that for the past 2 months Roshan Giri is camping in Delhi for no reason.
" If he can't do anything he should step down from the post of GJM General Secretary. We have many able men in the GJM to take up the post" retorted Tamang.
Training guns at SS Ahluwalia, the GJM backed BJP MP from Darjeeling, Tamang stated, "I will get the Centre to hold tripartite talks without the help of Ahluwalia. What has he done for this constituency? Even when 8 people died, he did not utter a single word."
With the anticipation of clashes, the district administration is closing a close tab on the situation. Police presence and patrolling has been intensified throughout the Hills.