West Bengal: Hill agitation turning ugly



  Sujit Roy

DARJEELING HILLS seems to be going out of control of the state government very fast. After months of democratic movement, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), the refreshed agitating group, has initiated a move to introduce home rule in the entire hills. This is a direct challenge to the state and the Centre that amounts to rebellion against the Constitution of India.

A few weeks back, the GJM issued fatwa on the vehicle owners that their vehicles would have to change the number plate. Instead of West Bengal number they had to write Gorkhaland (GL). On Sunday (July 27), at the commemoration meeting of Pramila Sharma, GJM, under the leadership of Bimal Gurung announced that henceforth, the hills would be administered under Home Rule. The rules will be in tradition to the Home Rule League that was formed during British rule in India. As the first step towards total autonomy, the GJM has taken over the charge of Gorkha Ranga Mancha in Darjeeling and bestowed the responsibility of the same to Biddwajjan Committee formed by the intellectuals of the hills.
Home Rule League was basically a political party that campaigned for self-government for Ireland in 1873. In India, two nationalists Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Pune and Annie Besant in Madras (now Chennai) introduced the same movement during First World War. The All India Home Rule League (AIHRL) was a national political organisation founded in 1916, to lead the national demand for self-government and to obtain the status of a dominion within the British Empire as enjoyed by Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Newfoundland at the time. The movement was for political liberation from the British regime. GJM, however, stepped further ahead.
They have decided to go against the Constitution of the country and announced that their first step would be to take over the public offices, which are lying vacant and create a pressure on the state and the Centre to grab the status of Gorkhaland. Gurung announced a total non-cooperation with the state government. A fresh fatwa has been imposed that all the shops in Darjeeling will have to wipe out the words West Bengal’ from their signboards and change the same to ’Gorkhaland’. Taxes are also being collected from the businessmen from the plains who have settled in hills.
Two days back they had set fire to some of the houses of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leaders, after one of their comrade Pramila Sharma died of bullet injury. They alleged that one GNLF leader had fired upon them when they were demonstrating on the road. The aftermath was more serious. They had created a situation that has led the GNLF leader Subhas Ghising to leave the hills with all family members and take shelter in Siliguri. The GNLF MLA Shanta Rai had to follow the same path to save herself and her family.

Gurung said that they have the right to self-defence and for that they have no alternative, but to adopt Home Rule policy.
The wonder is that the state government is yet to announce any step against this political autocracy in Darjeeling even after the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI – M) leaders in the hills alleged that they are under sever threat from GJM. GNLF leaders have also alleged that the recent violence in the hills happened in front of the police, who were mute spectators.
The only man who is still maintaining his cool is Subhas Ghising who can say, “Darjeeling was mine, it is still mine and it will remain mine. I also initiated a movement for Gorkhaland. I want to see, what GJM can do finally.” (merinews)

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