No end in sight to Darjeeling shutdown

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 11, 2018

In Capital, for State Activists demanding a separate Gorkhaland State chant slogans at a recent protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

In Delhi, Mamatato meet Rajnath

The indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills demanding statehood entered its 41st day on Tuesday, the longest so far in the region.

While the State government ban on internet, imposed on June 18, continues, Nepali news channel ABN Network was also shut down on allegations of disturbing peace and harmony.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is expected to take up the matter with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for a likely end to the impasse.

Banerjee had left for Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Ram Nath Kovind, and is likely to meet Singh later on Tuesday evening.

Tension remains

Meanwhile, the situation remains tense in the hills, with sporadic instances of violence being reported almost every week. The agitation has already claimed several lives.

Supporters of the agitation have been undertaking hunger strikes in places such as Darjeeling, Mirik, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

The Adivasi Vikas Sangathan, which claims to represent the hills’ non-Gorkha tribal population, has also backed the statehood demand.

Top State police officials, including the Director General of Police visited Darjeeling on Monday to assess the law and order situation.

Except medicine shops, all the other establishments, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges remain closed.

Difference of opinion

Meanwhile, there is a difference in opinion with the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) –formed by 14 hill parties to steer the demand for statehood.

GNLF, the second-largest party in the hills and the prime rival of leading party Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has turned the heat on GJM’s ally BJP for failing to give adequate push to the statehood demand in Parliament. GNLF accused the local MP, the BJP’s SS Ahluwalia, for failing to make an appearance in the hills over the last 41 days, and filed a “missing” diary with police.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri’s Jan Andolan Party, a splinter group of the GJM, threatened to walk out of the all-party front, if violence continued.

Meanwhile, there are reports of some workers turning up for cleaning work in some tea plantations near Darjeeling town.

Legal action

Meanwhile, in a major relief to GJM chief Bimal Gurung and other senior party leaders, a city court rejected the CBI’s plea for an arrest warrant against them in the Madan Tamang murder case.

According to CBI sources, August 1-4 has been fixed for day-to-day hearings on framing of charges against the accused, as also for hearing the discharge petitions filed by accused. The CBI had moved a petition seeking an arrest warrant against them after Gurung and other accused failed to appear before Calcutta High Court on July 19.

Madan Tamang, who led the anti-GJM Democratic Front in the Darjeeling Hills, was hacked to death at Laden La Road near the Planters’ Club in Darjeeling on May 21, 2010. Tamang was busy with preparations for a party rally when a group of alleged GJM activists hacked him to death.

Published on July 25, 2017

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