|Women in the crowd clap during Mamata Banerjee’s speech in the Kalimpong Mela Grounds on Tuesday. Picture by Amit Datta
Darjeeling, Sept. 3: Bimal Gurung today appealed to his Lepchas “brothers” not to “fall into the trap” of the government, hours before Mamata Banerjee addressed a rally organised by the community in Kalimpong.
“I would like to appeal to the Lepcha brothers of Gorkhaland that the Government is trying to create a rift in the Hills and not to fall into this trap,” Gurung wrote in a Facebook post.
“The Kalimpong function was to be organised by the Lepcha community, but, I was sad to observe that the pandals look more like a Trinamul show with the use of BLUE and WHITE. I have always known that the Lepcha communities’ symbolic colour is MAROON and not BLUE. Please, do not change your colours, my dear Lepcha brothers and sisters,” Gurung wrote.
“I have nothing against the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board and, I, also understand it’s need for the protection, promotion and safeguard of my Lepcha brother’s language, tradition and culture,” his post read.
He said the only point he wanted to make was of hill identity.
“The only point I am trying to make is that the hill people are different from the rest of Bengal in all aspects, historically and culturally. Whether it is the Lepchas, Dukpas, Yolmos, Sherpas, Bhutias, Nepalis or even the Marwaris, Biharis and the Sikhs living in the Hills, we are different from the rest of Bengal even in our thoughts,” he wrote.
“Gorkhaland is about this distinct identity, separate from the rest of Bengal. Please do not think that the demand of Gorkhaland is an anti-Bengali demand or in this regard against any community. We have no enmity with the people of the plains or the rest of Bengal.”
Gurung, who had several times said Mamata Banerjee was trying to divide the hills using the formation of the Lepcha board as a tool, wrote: “To my Lepcha brothers and sisters, I, would only appeal to you that your concerns for socio and economic upliftment should not be allowed to be used as a political tool by vested interests.”
The Morcha chief said despite the Lepchas demanding a board in September 2012, the formation of the board was announced only in January 2013 after Mamata Banerjee was greeted with “we want Gorkhaland” slogans in Darjeeling.
“She was silent all along as I made peace with her for the sake of development. However, the moment we decided to democratically and peacefully raise our voice for Gorkhaland from July 29, 2013, she immediately rushed her officials from Kolkata and officially formed the Lepcha board. Dear Lepcha brothers, don’t you think she is using you all as pawns just to deny the hill people their legitimate rights?” Gurung asked.
Attack on Trinamul
A Trinamul leader said party supporters returning from Mamata Banerjee’s Kalimpong rally were attacked by alleged Morcha activists.
Binny Sharma, the spokesperson for the hill Trinamul, said the supporters from Kurseong were returning home when Nari and Yuva Morcha activists attacked them. “Ram Subba, our local leader, has been hospitalised,” Sharma said.