The political scenario vis-à-vis the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong seems to heat up as the general elections approach. Supporters of the Binoy Tamang faction of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha on Sunday torched the effigy of Darjeeling MP and senior BJP leader SS Ahluwalia at Chowk Baazar in Darjeeling and alleged that it was because of him that Mr Tamang was not allowed to address a programme in New Delhi to mark the party’s foundation day on Sunday.
Mr Tamang, who had gone to Delhi on Saturday, was to attend the programme in the NCUI auditorium and convention centre in South Delhi to mark the day. Similar functions were also held in several places in the Hills, the Terai and the Dooars on Sunday.
“Today’s programmes were pre-planned, with our unit in Delhi also organising the event there. Our party leaders were, however, stopped from reaching the venue by the police there, while traffic jams were created so that they could not head to the venue. Alhuwalia was behind all this, it was a move to stop our leader from speaking in the programme,” alleged Arun Chhetri, the GJM central committee youth spokesperson.
Party supporters also shouted slogans against the MP and said that he would not be allowed to enter the Hills, while posters came up at Chowk Baazar, condemning the Delhi incident.
“The BJP and others who are supporting them maintain that there is no democracy in the Hills, but what happened in Delhi on Sunday shows that there is no democracy there. Delhi is the capital of India and if we cannot find democracy there where will we find it?
We have got information that the manager of the NCUI centre was also threatened against allowing our programme there,” said the Morcha Darjeeling subdivision spokesperson, Sandip Chhetri.
“The BJP can stop dreaming about winning the elections from the Hills anymore. We will also not allow Ahluwalia to enter the hills,” he added.
In Kalimpong, the party marked the 11th foundation day at the party office near the Industrial Park, while supporters later pasted posters at Dambar Chowk and questioned the Central government as to “why there was no democracy for the Gorkhas.”
The posters alleged that the Centre has been suppressing voices of the Gorkhas.
“We strongly protest the Central government which has issued a notice to Binoy Tamang against speaking,” one of the posters said.
Another poster questioned the Prime Minister and said, “Where is the constitutional right for the Gorkhas to speak?”
It may be mentioned here that the police in the Hills have not been allowing opposition parties to put up posters, voicing their concerns.
Only on Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October last, the BJP engaged in a duel with the police after the latter barred party supporters from pasting posters that went against the state government. The BJP supporters were detained for some hours.
Similarly, cadres of the Jan Andolan Party were arrested on 12 August while they shouted pro-Gorkhaland slogans.
“If the Centre carries on with such activities of suppression, anything can happen in the Hills. If disturbances occur in the Hills, the central government should be answerable,” Binay Ghising, the organizing secretary of the Morcha in Kalimpong, said.
Amir Basnet, the general secretary of the youth wing of Morcha in Kalimpong, said that the central government was afraid that Mr Tamang would speak about the Centre’s mistakes.
In Kurseong too, GJMM activists burnt Mr Ahluwalia in effigy, and pasted posters at different places in the town against Mr Ahluwalia and the central government.
Tamang threatens rally in capital
Mr Tamang threatened to hold a rally and public meeting in Delhi against Sunday’s incident, while he also said that his party would launch programmes in the Hills, Terai and Dooars to demand that these areas be included in the ‘scheduled area’ if the Centre cannot grant Gorkhaland ortribal status to 11 Hill communities.
“Ever since I announced that I would be going to Delhi, the BJP, Bimal camp leaders and some activists from the GSS (Gorkhaland Sangharsh Samiti) were making plans to stop me from going there, but they were not successful. They planned to wave black flags at me at the Delhi airport on Saturday, but as our party supporters were there in large numbers, they could not do that. Not being able to do all that, they even held a meeting at Ahluwalia’s place yesterday,” Mr Tamang said from Delhi.
He claimed that later on, an order also came from the home ministry to the police, asking them to stop the Morcha programme.
“Around 400-500 people were taken out of the auditorium by the police and the gates were locked. They had also told our organising committee yesterday(Saturday) that if any of our leader came to the programme, then he would be arrested,” he said.
“The constitution has given an individual the freedom of speech and expression. The Delhi police are under the Centre and by using them they stopped me from making a speech, which I condemn,” he added.
“Even if they do not grant permission, I will hold the programme and if they want to put me in jail, they can do so,” he said. He further said that he would stop the BJP in the 2019 elections in north Bengal.