‘Apolitical’ bikers with a Left tilt

Siliguri, June 12: They came out in droves, zipping through the streets of Siliguri to enforce the bandh.
Not many months after Nandigram saw motorcycle brigades, Siliguri, too, witnessed the phenomenon today for the first time. However, unlike in Nandigram, the Siliguri bikers were neither hooded nor armed.
The bikers were not part of Amra Bangali, the outfit which had called today’s bandh, but supporters of a nascent organisation, Jana Jagaran, that has been formed to protest the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s call for statehood.
As soon as the bikers — spread out in batches of 50 to 60 throughout the town — spotted any vehicles coming down from the hills, they stopped the travellers and asked them to return. Only tourists were allowed to pass.
“We don’t want any disruption by the Morcha any longer,” said a member of the “brigade” who did not want to be named. “We are demonstrating to prove a point: we won’t tolerate the Morcha’s whimsical calls of indefinite bandhs any longer.”
It was supporters of this organisation that had stopped five trucks carrying supplies to the hills last night and ransacked them. “But it is important to remember that we are against Gorkhaland, not against the Gorkhas,” a “brigade” leader said.
The Jana Jagaran claims that it is an “apolitical” body of Siliguri citizens which will fight the Morcha’s statehood demand.
Emphasising the “apolitical” nature of the organi- sation, joint secretary Ashoke Kumar Hore said: “We have academics, critics, writers, doctors, and people from different walks of life in our committee who might have different political views.”
But 60 per cent of its committee members are either affiliated to the outfits of the CPM or associated with the party.
For instance, Malay Karanjai, the principal of the Siliguri College, is a member of the CPM-dominated West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association and veteran academician Haren Ghosh is a member of the West Bengal Democratic Writers and Artists’ Association, also known for its “intellectual ties” with the Left.
The Jana Jagaran held a meeting with state hill affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya today. “We agreed with the minister that we should make all efforts to bring peace and not provoke the situation,” said Hore.
But the outfit did not say whether supplies would be allowed to be taken to the hills tomorrow.(The Telegraph)

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