Sept. 1: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha suggested today that it would not provoke the situation during chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s trip to Kalimpong this week in order to ensure that the party would not be labelled “pro-violence”.
Mamata arrives in Kalimpong on September 2 and, the following day, she is scheduled to be felicitated at the Mela Ground in Kalimpong by the Lepcha community for setting up the Lepcha development board. The hill leadership has appealed to all people to stay indoors on these two days.
Addressing a rally today on the St. Joseph’s School ground in Darjeeling, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said: “My best wishes are there for Miss Mamata Banerjee for her visit to Kalimpong. The entire police machinery has been mobilised to escort her supporters from the Dooars and other places to Kalimpong. Let her grow and prosper. But let her also fall soon.”
On the eve of Mamata’s visit, the Morcha chief also repeatedly stressed the need to remain “non-violent”.
“Unlike the agitation of 1986 (led by Subash Ghisingh) when our own brothers killed each other, I want to appeal to all that not a single person should die in this phase of the agitation. We should be non-violent. There must be no bloodshed and infighting amongst us or with members of the opposition camp,” Gurung added.
He underscored that the Lepcha community must not be harmed either.
“There should be no infighting with the members of the Lepcha community,” Gurung stressed.
“A local killed will only mean that our hill community will have one less member. Sometimes I feel that the once you sheath the khukuri, it should turn into a pen when you unsheathe it.”
But Gurung ruled out a meeting with Mamata.
“What is the use of meeting her? I can only enquire about her health. We cannot discuss statehood as this is not her state’s issue,” said Gurung.
Gurung’s thrust on remaining non-violent comes on a day a delegation of the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, an umbrella of six parties spearheading the statehood agitation, left to meet the UPA leadership in Delhi.
The message that Gurung wants them to carry to the capital is that the movement for Gorkhaland is a peaceful one so that they can get a more sympathetic hearing from the leaders and ministers there, a Morcha leader said.
“We are not at war with the state government but would like to discuss the statehood issue with the Centre.… We want to iterate that our trip to Delhi is to hold discussions on the singular agenda of statehood and no other issue,” Morcha leader and Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri said at Bagdogra airport.
Asked about Mamata’s visit to Kalimpong, Chhetri echoed Gurung: “The chief minister is free to go anywhere in the hills. We are not concerned with it as it is not related to our movement for Gorkhaland. We will be busy with our ghar bhitra janata (stay at home) movement for two days, starting tomorrow.”
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said he had received requests from different parts of the Darjeeling hills for vehicles to transport people to the Kalimpong venue.
“I have received numerous requests and we will try and make sure that there is enough transport to bring people to the felicitation venue,” Deb told The Telegraph.
“All efforts are being made to arrange this as people want to listen to our chief minister.”
A Lepcha leader said: “All transport is off the roads and no one would be plying their vehicles because of the strike. So, it will be very difficult to get people from outside of Kalimpong town. They will find it extremely difficult to reach the venue. This is why we have requested the state government to provide vehicles to ferry Lepcha supporters to the venue.”