Three years after he was forced to leave Darjeeling in the face of GJM-led violence, Subash Ghisingh returned to Darjeeling Hills on Friday to reclaim lost territory.
Riding the Election Commission’s assurances of a level playing field for all and brimming with confidence, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) president said” “I too can indulge in confrontation and terror tactics but I didn’t do so. The public would have suffered. Instead, I chose to take a long holiday and went to Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Bhutan. I researched on World War 2 and Therawada Buddhism. Now, I am back and here to stay.”
On October 7, 2007, Bimal Gurung broke away from the GNLF and floated Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), launching a new agitation for a separate state. Ghisingh was compelled to leave Darjeeling on July 27, 2008, following angry GJM supporters going on an arson and vandalising spree prompted by the death of GJM supporter Pramila Sharma from an alleged shot fired from the house of Deepak Gurung, a GNLF leader in Darjeeling. Since then, he had been living in Jalpaiguri town in the plains.
The biggest blow to Ghisingh’s morale was when the GJM prevented him from bringing back the body of his wife (as per her last wishes) to Darjeeling for cremation in August 2008. Ghisingh’s wife Dhan Kumari had to be cremated in Siliguri.
However, the GNLF for the past few months has been on a resurrection path. GNLF supporters have been eagerly awaiting Ghisingh’s return. They are also of the opinion that a single public speech by Ghisingh would definitely turn the tide in favour of the party.
Ghisingh, escorted by security vehicles, arrived at the gates of his house at Dr Zakir Hussain Road in Darjeeling exactly at 7.40 am on Friday.
Ghisingh was seen waving from the front seat of a silver-grey Scorpio (shattering the popular belief that he would be arriving at night to escape any blockade attempts by the GJM). State police and CRPF personnel cordoned off the area. Supporters were there in good numbers to welcome him back amidst offering of khadas (traditional scarves).
Without naming the GJM, Ghisingh said, “They were raising questions as to whether I would be able to come up or not. I have arrived. It is as easy for me to drive up as it is easy for me to drive down (implying that he can come and go at will).”
Ghisingh will be releasing the GNLF election manifesto at Mirik on Saturday. “There is a possibility of us winning all three seats,” said a plucky Ghisingh. He is expected to address the public in Darjeeling on April 13.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung dubbed Ghisingh’s return a conspiracy hatched by the state government. “Ghisingh has been planted by the state government. with full security to disturb the democratic atmosphere of the Hills.” He threatened an agitation post-elections (with the lifting of the model code of conduct).