In a sudden development Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghising, left Darjeeling hills for Siliguri in the plains of North Bengal at 8.35pm. He was accompanied by six of his supporters and his son. Ghising after a more than 3 year long exile had returned to Darjeeling on April 8, 2011.
Subash Ghising had floated the GNLF party and led a 28 month long violent agitation in the Darjeeling Hills which had paved the way for the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988. He along with the GNLF had been ousted from the Hills in 2008 by dissident GNLF leader Bimal Gurung who floated the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on October 7, 2007.
Though the GNLF remained tight lipped over chief Ghising’s sudden departure from the Hills, sources state that it could be to avoid confrontation. Despite having won all the three hill seats with over a lakh margin the GJM have time and again issued muffled threats asking Ghising to leave the Hills.
Things took an ugly turn with the GNLF and GJM clashes near Sonada, 8km from Darjeeling town, on Sunday night which left one Robin Rai- a GJM supporter critically injured. Rai is battling for his life in a private nursing home in Siliguri.
Chances of the situation spiraling out of control in case of any eventuality (Rai’s condition deteriorating from bad to worse) seems to have prompted Ghising to leave the Hills. Interestingly a some what similar situation had compelled Ghising to leave the Hills on July 27, 2008 also.
A bullet fired allegedly from the residence of GNLF leader Deepak Gurung in Darjeeling had resulted in the death of a GJM supporter Pramila Sharma. Following this incident, agitated GJM supporters had gone on an arson and vandalizing spree, torching GNLF property. This had prompted Ghising to leave the Hills on July 27, 2008. Since then he had been living in Jalpaiguri.
The biggest blow to Ghising’s morale was when the GJM prevented him from bringing back the dead body of his wife (as per her last wishes) to Darjeeling for cremation in August 2008. Ghising’s wife Dhan Kumari had to be cremated down in the plains of Siliguri.
After nearly three years, riding the Election Commission’s assurances of a level playing field for all, Subash Ghising finally returned back to the Darjeeling Hills to reclaim back his lost territory on April 8, 2011. However his stay was short lived.
The GNLF failed to perform as expected in the Assembly elections. Though second in the fray in all three Hill seats they trailed behind the GJM by more than a lakh votes This could have further damaged Ghising’s morale, forcing him to leave, feel political observers.
Coincidentally following the Sonada clashes, the GJM claimed to have faxed a memorandum to the Darjeeling District Magistrate, demanding that Ghising be removed from the Hills immediately or the law and order situation would go out of hand.
However section of the GNLF believes that Ghising could have left the Hills to visit Delhi. He had earlier expressed wishes to visit Delhi to meet UPA top brass including Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Ghising has been demanding that the State and Centre honour the Memorandum of Settlement signed between the Centre, State and him on December 6, 2005 agreeing to accord 6th Schedule status to the Darjeeling Hills.
However neither Ghising, his close associates or his son was available for comments. They are putting up in a hotel in Siliguri. Ghising’s sudden departure could halt the GNLF’s current organizational drive feel political observers.