Sir — The animosity of the hill people was first directed against those from the plains. However, now, they have started fighting against each other (“Morcha woman shot, Darjeeling erupts”, July 26). It is horrifying to think that the law-and-order situation in the hills has spun out of control to such a degree that a supporter of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha bled to death in broad daylight after someone fired a shot from a house belonging to a top leader of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. The unrest soon spread like wildfire with GJM activists burning down the house of rival leader, Deepak Gurung. Later they even attacked shops, houses and GNLF supporters. The situation in Darjeeling is likely to deteriorate if the West Bengal government does not act against the GJM and Bimal Gurung. Although the GNLF initiated the hostilities this time, the magnitude of the violence unleashed by the GJM in retaliation was unwarranted. Peace will not return to north Bengal so long as Bimal Gurung’s men have a free rein in the hills. If Bimal Gurung wants his Gorkhaland, he would have to teach his supporters the norms of civilized behaviour first.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The recent backlash in Darjeeling reminds one of similar stirrings in Kashmir before things took a turn for the worse. In Darjeeling, a self-styled morcha of the people has taken over the district administration without having the authority to do so. The GJM activists are not only directing day-to-day activities in the hills these days, but have also prevented the democratically elected GNLF from functioning. Subash Ghisingh, former administrator of the hill council, was compelled to leave Darjeeling at a few hours’ notice. The GJM pelted GNLF leaders with stones and set their houses on fire.
The worsening condition of Darjeeling shows that the law of the land has stopped functioning there. It seems that the Bengal government is content to sit and watch the GJM destroy itself as a result of infighting. After that happens, the administration will send its troop to restore peace. Even if the Morcha fails to realize its goals, resentment will continue to simmer in the people. If the government does not want to create another Kashmir in West Bengal, it should start paying more attention to the grievances of the hill people.
Diptimoy De, Calcutta
Sir — The news that car-maker, Maruti Suzuki, organized a Gramin Mahotsav in Singur came as a pleasant surprise (“Maruti carnival milks Nano cradle”, July 17). The event will go down as a landmark in Bengal’s history. The car carnival in Singur speaks a lot about the improving economic condition of the region. And the credit for this should surely go to the Tata Motors project there. The change, coming days after the government decided to acquire farm land, is certainly welcome. The government can claim a part of the credit, because it had decided to go forward with its industrialization project despite the criticism it faced from all quarters. The chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, knowing that the Tata Motors project would help the region prosper, had brooked no opposition when it came to realize his dream of an industrialized Bengal. Perhaps a day will come when the people of the state will praise Bhattacharjee for changing the face of Bengal for the better.
Jayanta Dutta, Calcutta
Sir — Sohini Mookherjea’s report deftly captures the changing socio-economic face of Singur. Reading the report, I was reminded of an old ad campaign of Tata Steel that had had a huge impact on my impressionable, young mind. The campaign, with its cryptic slogan, “We also make steel”, sought to convey the message that steel-making is incidental in the company’s bigger commitment to the nation’s development. This is indeed the truth. The small-car factory in Singur now seems to be a part of a larger project undertaken by the Tatas to rejuvenate Bengal’s economy.
A carnival by a rival company is just the beginning. I would not be surprised if Maruti opens its next showroom at Singur itself. And all this because Nano has changed the landscape of Singur and its adjoining areas forever.
Deep Dey, Calcutta
Sir — Competition is always good for economic growth. It helps competitors strive for the best in order to outdo one another. When Ratan Tata unveiled the plans for the “people’s car”, he indirectly invited other car-makers to take up the challenge to manufacture cheap cars that would suit the budget of the man on the street. Maruti 800s and Altos may not be as low priced as the Nano, but the fact that many people in Bengal’s villages can now afford them indicates the rising prosperity of rural Bengal. Good things, it seems, do come in small packages and the Nano proves this fact beyond doubt.
Puloma Basu, Calcutta