Ex-servicemen at the seminar on Gorkhaland on Sunday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Nov. 8: At a time many overzealous Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters are showing a tendency to go overboard agitating for Gorkhaland, a senior leader has called for tolerance and urged supporters to take a holistic view of the party’s protest programmes.
While addressing a seminar on Gorkhaland here today, Morcha media and publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri denounced extremism in implementing agitation programmes and urged the people to stop bracketing their identity with the daura sural — the traditional attire of the Gorkhas.
“Wearing traditional dress is just a strategy to show that we are different from the rest of Bengal. People must understand this significance and not think that wearing the traditional dress is tantamount to identity. The issue of identity is complex. If we understand the significance of the strategy, wearing the dress will be more enjoyable. After all, daura sural is merely another dress,” he said.
Even though his message was not directed at anyone in particular, many believe that it was an oblique reference to some party workers who tend to walk the path of extremism while implementing the party’s agitation.
Last year, some Morcha supporters had gone to the extent of smearing black paint on the faces of those who did not wear the traditional dress in Darjeeling.
This year, the Morcha had not made the traditional attire compulsory but after the end of the month-long dress code on October 25, various frontal organisations urged school teachers and students to continue wearing daura sural for three days a week. The contractual workers of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council have been asked to wear the dress at least two days a week.
Speaking to The Telegraph on the sidelines of the seminar, Chhetri stressed that it was time for society to be more liberal. “We must be liberal as a society. I have personally noticed that our society is getting intolerant and restless. We have to come across as a tolerant society,” he said.
Observers believe that Chhetri was trying to send a message to those party activists who believe that non-adherence to party diktats should be viewed as being a non-supporter for the Gorkhaland demand.
In the past two years, supporters of other political outfits and especially those of the GNLF have been virtually chased out of the hills while Opposition parties have not been able to hold public meetings.
Asked about the people he had in mind while addressing the seminar today, Chhetri, said: “It is for all those who care to listen.”
The three-day seminar has been organised by the ex-serviceman association. The speakers tomorrow will be Morcha president Bimal Gurung, Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh and Sikkim MP Dil Kumari Bhandari.