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Out in open, an ‘indoor’ meet

- 2000 gather to listen to morcha leaders

Alipurduar, April 26: Nearly 2,000 people assembled to listen to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders at two public meetings in the Dooars today, gatherings that the administration chose to dismiss as indoor meetings over which they no embargo had been imposed.

The first halt of the Morcha leaders, including chief Bimal Gurung Binoy Tamang, and the John Barla faction was the Dalshingpara Durga Bari ground, 100km from Jalpaiguri town.

While Gurung claimed that it was a “simple get together” to which he had been invited by Morcha supporters of Dalshingpara to have lunch, the Jalpaiguri district magistrate said it was an “indoor” event.

“There is no bar in holding indoor meetings. However, I have asked the police superintendent to look into the matter,” DM Smaraki Mahapatra, who was in Siliguri today said when asked whether any permission had been given to the Morcha to hold public meetings and that Gurung was addressing crowds in tea gardens over the public address system.

The Morcha chief was the last of the five speakers at Dalsingpara where there was an almost 1500-strong audience. By the time, Barla, the adivasi leader who has joined hands with the Morcha, started speaking, Gurung started distributing laddoos among the crowd. He also danced with some old Gorkha women.

“On the basis of the assurance we got from SDO Alipurduar we have deferred our strike. He told us that after a gap of few days, we will be given permission to hold public meeting in the Dooars,” said Raju Bara the spokesperson for the Joint Terai Dooars Co-ordination Committee of which the Morcha is a member with 26 other organisations.

Gurung asked all communities —“the Bangali, Bihari, Muslim, adivasi and the Gorkhas to shout in favour of GTA for then only would development happen”. The Morcha had called an indefinite strike from Monday to protest against the denial of permission to hold meetings in the Dooars and Terai.

“The politics of this state do not allow us to be united and within a short time I will organise public meeting where lakhs of people will participate. It is a get-together and local people invited me for lunch. I have nothing against the chief minister but the government is doing us wrong with us,” Gurung said. His next halt was Beech tea estate where 500 people had come for the meeting.