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GNLF joins Morcha, fuels fire of unrest in Darjeeling

Police Lathicharge in Darjeeling
DARJEELING: The recent formation of a "new" front has led to further complications in the political situation in and around the Darjeeling hills. Despite the Bengal government calling in the Army and the paramilitary forces to keep peace in the area, the political equations are changing. The GNLF not only ditched the Trinamool Congress to join hands with GJM, but it is also gearing up for a joint movement for the creation of Gorkhaland. The GNLF does not want the hill area to be included in the Sixth Schedule anymore, and has asked the GJM to quit the GTA.

Late Subash Ghisingh's party (GNLF) has also asked the Morcha to ensure the resignation of party MLAs. The Morcha is yet to concede, but nonetheless has not ruled it out. Rather, it has joined in the demand for Gorkhaland with renewed enthusiasm. The BJP was also present at the all-party meeting. Voices at the all-party meet at the Darjeeling Gymkhana Club were unanimous. Later, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "We will mull over the GNLF's proposal. The next all-party meet is scheduled for June 20."

GNLF general secretary Mahendra Chhetri said: "Like the Morcha, we too are in favour of a separate Gorkhaland state. Given the situation here at present, we all need to come together and act. We don't mind joining in the movement along with the Morcha. But we have suggested that the Morcha should withdraw from GTA, the state Assembly and the civic bodies." Morcha MLAs are ready to resign, sources said. Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma said, "I'll be happy to resign if my party says so." The GNLF, incidentally, had allied with the Trinamool Congress during the recently concluded civic body polls.

The GNLF's change of stand within a month's time is definitely embarrassing for the Trinamool. However, talking to reporters at Nabanna, chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed Darjeeling is 'peaceful'. However, she had a meeting with the chief secretary, the home secretary and the DGP during which she reviewed the situation in the hills, and discussed the prospects of sending another six companies of paramilitary forces. GNLF's change of stand and the brewing voices of dissent among Trinamool's rank and file have caused the party to squirm. Bimal Gurung says, "Trinamool will be finished soon." On Tuesday, heavyweight leader and former Mayor Chandrakumar Kumai's resignation put Trinamool in a difficult situation. 

Kumai said, "What provoked the sending of so many policemen to the hills? Can people's emotions be forcibly suppressed by sending policemen? By deploying the Army, the Bengal government has insulted the people of the hills." Another leader from Kalimpong (who did not want to be named) said, "What shall I do by remaining in such a party?" Angry Trinamool leader Chhowang Bhutia said, "I have expressed my reservations before state-level leaders. I'm not willing to share my views with journalists."

Trinamool Hill Committee president Rajen Mukhia avoided the issue by saying this matter is being looked into by the Kalimpong District Committee. Tourism minister Goutam Deb said, "If the GNLF gets into an understanding with people who didn't even allow Subash Ghisingh's wife's body to be cremated in the hills, the hill people will judge them anyway." PCC president Adhir Choudhury strongly criticized the Bengal government's 'hill strategy'. He said, "The people of the hills are tired of witnessing Dadagiri and Didigiri. We want neither Gorkhaland, nor unrest. The name GTA had the seeds of Gorkhaland in it anyway." BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said he wouldn't comment before receiving a report on the all-party meeting held in this regard.

TOI - With inputs from Prakriti Basu

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