Faces blackened after dress code defiance - Poster warning precedes brush attack Drop casuals for gorkhaland, says hill party

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 14.10.08
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Darjeeling, Oct. 14: A group of suspected Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members today smeared black paint on the faces of some youths for defying the dress code imposed by the party and strolling in casual attires instead.

Eyewitnesses said about 15 to 20 Morcha supporters with boxes of black paint and brushes in hands accosted the unsuspecting youths at Chowk Bazar. “The boys applied colour on the dresses and faces of the youths, some of whom ran away crying,” said an eyewitness.

Earlier, a poster warning those violating the dress code had been pasted at Chowk Bazar located in the heart of the town. Signed by Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, Darjeeling Town Committee, the poster said people not adhering to the dress code were opposed to Gorkhaland.

Immediately after the face-blackening incident, people not in their traditional dresses and in the vicinity of Chowk Bazar retreated to the security of their dwellings. However, by evening, the ratio of people attired in traditional dresses and those wearing casual attires was more or less 50:50, at least in Darjeeling town. By then, the Morcha leaders were one in condemning the incident. In fact, late in the afternoon, a poster flaying the incident replaced the earlier one.

The Darjeeling Town Committee of the Morcha, which pasted the new poster, also called for unity among the people for the greater cause of Gorkhaland. Morcha secretary Roshan Giri, too, condemned the incident and said the dress code was not a diktat, rather an appeal to all communities to wear their traditional attires during the tourist season. For the Gorkhas, the traditional dress for women is the chaubandi cholo and for men daura sural.

“Those wearing traditional dresses are helping a cultural revolution, which is aimed at establishing the difference between us and the rest of Bengal,” Giri said.

Going by the general response the dress code has received in the three hill sub-divisions, most people were not to ready to buy the Morcha reasoning, although few are willing to come out into the open against it.

“There is something called individual rights, and the dress code, I am afraid, impinges on them. In any case you don’t need cosmetic programmes to establish the essential fact that the Gorkhas and Bengalis are different communities,” said a resident of Darjeeling.