The Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC), that is spearheading the Gorkhaland agitation in the Hills, seems to be having a difficult time deciding on whether to keep the public indoors or outdoors for the agitation.
Merely 48 hours after announcing a five-daylong “ghar bhitrai janta” (public to stay indoors) from August 19 to 23, on Sunday, the GJAC declared that the public would stay indoors on August 19, but from August 20 to 23 it would be “janta sadak ma” (public out on the streets).
Shops, business establishments, educational institutes and offices will remain closed during the five days. Vehicles will also not ply.
Tea gardens and cinchona plantations have been exempted from the five days of closure. From August 24 onwards, the Hills will remain open though the Gorkhaland agitation will continue.
When questioned on why the sudden change in stance, GJAC chairman Enos Das Pradhan said, “People have requested us that staying indoors for five days will be suffocating and the voice for the Gorkhaland agitation will be stifled. Hence from August 20 we have asked the public to come out on the roads, hold rallies and voice their demand for Gorkhaland.”
GJM president Bimal Gurung said, “The change in programme is being done because the government is suppressing our voices. We must raise our voice for Gorkhaland by being there in the rallies from August 20 onwards.”
Earlier, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had called for an indefinite bandh from August 3.
A PIL filed in the Calcutta High Court by one Rama Prasad Sarkar had resulted in the indefinite bandh being declared illegal.
The GJM had immediately called for a public curfew on August 13 and 14.
With the Calcutta High Court declaring the public curfew illegal too, the GJM decided to pass on the agitation baton to the GJAC (a conglomeration of eight pro-Gorkhaland parties) which will be spearheading the Gorkhaland agitation henceforth.
GAUTAM DEB VISITS KALIMPONG
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb visited Kalimpong on Sunday and made an appeal to the public to maintain peace and normalcy in the hills.
At 7.30pm on Sunday Prabha Chettri, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration member from Tindharia in the Kurseong sub-division, was arrested by the police.
In Kalimpong, Deb made it clear that the state government would in no way use force to foil the ongoing bandh but assured that protection would be provided to all who would want to ply vehicles, open shops and schools during the five days of the bandh in the Hills.
Deb held a series of meetings at the Kalimpong Circuit House with the district administration, Trinamool Congress leaders from the Hills and the Lepcha Youth Association. Later, he also met the superintendent of police, Darjeeling.
Later, talking to the media persons, Deb stated, “The bandh is illegal. It is in clear defiance of the Calcutta High Court order. Bandh is a deterrent to the economical development of the hills, tourism and education. People are suffering owing to the bandh. We urge one and all to maintain peace. Normalcy has to be restored. Till normalcy is restored, I will be visiting the hills time and again.”