Bangshi's old outfit back with 'state' map - For the police chief: name the spot

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Behar
  • Published 6.05.08
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Cooch Behar, May 5: The Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association has set up maps of its version of the “state of Greater Cooch Behar” in all the gram panchayat areas of the district.

The hoardings bearing the map and “welcoming” people to the “state” started appearing one by one about three weeks ago.

Although the superintendent of police of Cooch Behar, Anil Kumar, said the display of the maps was “totally illegal”, he added that he was yet to spot any of them. “I am trying to find out where these maps have been put up,” Kumar said.

The Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party, a breakaway faction of the Association, has denied any role in setting up the maps. “We have nothing to do with it,” said Ashutosh Barma, the party president. However, the Democratic Party, too, is fighting for a separate state.

The Association with Bangshibadan Barman as its chief was formed in 2005. On September 20 the same year, a mass hunger strike organised by the association turned bloody, triggering mob violence. An additional police superintendent and two constables were killed. The police fired in retaliation, resulting in the death of two Association supporters.

Bangshibadan was jailed in 2006 and the association split. The breakaway faction formed the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party while the original organisation remained under the control of one of Banghisbadan’s erstwhile lieutenants, Jyotish Sarkar. “From the very beginning we have been fighting for a new state. The Democratic Party has shifted from the cause and is no part of us,” said Sarkar today. Bangshibadan himself is now a member of the Democratic Party.

Standing in front of one of the hoardings in Okrabari gram panchayat area, 35km from here, the local president of the Association, Amulya Barman, said: “Cooch Behar was never a district of Bengal but a ‘C’ category state under the Indian union. The state government has no legal rights to administration here.”

Recently the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has sided with the Democratic Party and the Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP) for the statehood cause.

The appearance of the maps has only added to the political confusion.

Not wanting to sound too concerned by the development, CPM district secretary, Chandi Pal, said his party felt no threat from these outfits.

“From the very outset, we have been saying that the Association, the Democratic Party and the KPP are separatist organisations and are being egged on by the BJP and the Trinamul Congress. The people do not pay much attention to them,” Pal said.

Congress district president Shyamal Choudhury said the CPM had a hand in the setting up of the maps. “Or else, how could they appear in a Left-controlled district? The CPM is doing this to keep alive the rift between the Rajbanshis and the non-Rajbanshis,” he said.