Beds and winter blankets back in the hotel room that the GNLF had taken on rent. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Oct. 28: The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which had on Saturday opened its first office in Darjeeling after five years, lost the address today after the lease holder of the building removed the party’s festoons.
GNLF leaders could not be contacted for comment. Lease holder Basant Rai’s family said the building was a low-cost hotel run by Rai. They claimed that Rai was under the impression that the people who had taken one of the rooms on rent wanted to run a business from there. He was upset when he came to know the room would be the GNLF’s office.
The GNLF has tried to recoup in the hills, which has brought it in the cross hairs of the Morcha. Nothing so far links the Morcha to the ousting of the GNLF from its office, the party’s first in Darjeeling town after Subash Ghisingh was driven out of the hills in 2008.
On Saturday, GNLF leaders had inaugurated the office in room number 307 of the hotel building in Judge Bazar.
GNLF supporters pasted party banners and put up a photograph of party president Ghisingh.
Manjit Subba, the chief convener of the GNLF’s Darjeeling branch committee who had inaugurated the office, said the opening of the party office was a precursor to the revival of the party’s activities in Darjeeling.
“From this office, we will oversee the functioning of our party activities right from Jorebunglow to Tukvar and Lebong areas,” Subba said.
“We are also planning to hold a public meeting at Dhooteriya (about 25km from Darjeeling) and soon our party president Subash Ghisingh would be coming to Darjeeling,” he said.
However, early this morning, family members of Rai and hotel staff removed the GNLF festoons and put beds in the hotel room.
Rai himself declined to speak but a member of his family said: “A group of people used to hold meetings in one of the rooms. They said they wanted to plans of a poultry business. We had rented out the place for Rs 250.”
The relative said: “We, however, came to know that the party (GNLF) had opened an office. We had absolutely no knowledge that the office would be set up here. This is why we immediately put in our beds so that we can run the hotel.”
Asked if Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters had pressured them to shut the office, Rai’s relative said: “We are apolitical businessmen and we are not involved in party activities.”
Sources said the Morcha leadership was unhappy with the opening of the office at the hotel and the businessman did not want to get involved in any controversy.
GNLF leaders were not seen on the hotel’s premises.
Of late, the party, whose leader Ghisingh’s writ ran in the hills, has started stirring back to life. It has held public meetings in Kurseong.
The Morcha has become wary of rival forces in the hills such as the GNLF and Trinamul, which is trying to occupy a vacuum Darjeeling where there is no credible Opposition party to take on the Morcha.
After the GNLF, Trinamul has started its activities in Kurseong from where most of the senior Morcha leaders have been arrested.
Morcha sources said Gurung today left for Kurseong to oversee party activities.
“Bimal Gurung will be staying in Kurseong sub-division for some days. This is largely because rival parties have started activities in the area as most of the Morcha leaders from the sub-division are behind bars,” said a Morcha leader.
Morcha leader Binay Tamang, who was elected the GTA chief executive but is in jail, said he would start an indefinite hunger strike on October 30 at the Jalpaiguri correctional home which would go on till all the Morcha leaders and the 170-odd party activists are released.
“I will start an indefinite hunger strike at the correctional home from October 30. Even though the correctional home authorities have not given permission to start the hunger strike, I will not have any food from October 30 until all our supporters are released,” Tamang, who was brought to Darjeeling court today, said.
Pankaj Prasad, assistant public prosecutor, said the court of the chief judicial magistrate today denied bail to nine people who allegedly torched the house of a TMC supporter at Glenburn on Saturday night.
“Their bail application has been rejected and they will be produced on November 8,” said Prasad.