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Cold fails to dampen protest

'The weather was challenging, but the country is facing a bigger challenge and so, we all walked for the idea of India'

By Vivek Chhetri & Binita Paul in Siliguri and Darjeeling
  • Published 29.12.19, 3:04 AM
  • Updated 29.12.19, 3:04 AM
  • a min read
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The Morcha march in Darjeeling on Saturday Telegraph Picture

The mercury was hovering around seven degrees Celsius in Darjeeling around 9am on Saturday as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Binay Tamang arrived in the motor stand to start his march to Kurseong in protest against the NRC and the CAA.

The chill didn’t, however, deter him and hundreds of supporters from starting a 32km walkathon. They reached Kurseong at 6.30pm when the temperature dipped further.

“The weather was challenging, but the country is facing a bigger challenge and so, we all walked for the idea of India,” said Tamang.

Down in the plains — in Siliguri — state tourism minister and Trinamul leader Gautam Deb and his supporters showed similar resolve when they reached Airview More, a prominent crossing of the city, around 2.30pm to attend a sit-in demonstration launched by the party on the same issues.

The mercury was at 15 degrees and cold breeze was blowing from the Mahananda river, but an undeterred Deb spoke elaborately on the ramifications of the NRC, CAA and the National Population Register.

From Darjeeling to Dum Dum near Calcutta, Trinamul leaders held sit-ins or took out marches against the NRC and the CAA ignoring the challenging weather. In Calcutta and the neighbouring districts, senior Trinamul leaders took part in sit-ins that started early morning.

“These days, it is chilling cold, both in the hills and the foothills or in south Bengal. Also, people are in a celebration mood as the New Year is ahead. Even then, we are continuing our activities as a good number of people are assembling at the programmes which indicate that they are supporting our stand on these issues,” said a senior Trinamul leader in Siliguri.

Tamang said: “We are opposing the NRC and the CAA for a number of reasons. A strike was called but as we want the hills to be a strike-free zone, we have withdrawn it. But the hill residents are into peaceful movement as has been proved by their huge presence in the march.”

Amar Lama, the leader of the Jan Andolan Party, said by introducing the NPR, the Centre was trying to push the NRC through backdoors.