Calcutta High Court, on Wednesday, held that the janata curfew in Darjeeling amounted to an “illegal bandh” and violation of the human rights of the people.
Chief justice Arun Mishra and justice Joymalya Bagchi also directed to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), headed by Bimal Gurung, to file an affidavit explaining why it should not be ordered to pay compensation for violating human rights and damaging public property by calling a bandh in Darjeeling.
The high court directive not only increases pressure on the Morcha leaders to stop bandhs and curfews, but also points to the possibility of imposing monetary compensation for their disruptive politics.
Taking serious note of the situation during the bandh in Darjeeling, the judges said, “The people are treated like animals. Students are deprived of education, patients are deprived of medical services, the poor are robbed of their livelihood and prisoners are deprived of access to justice which resulted in their illegal and wrongful incarceration.”
The judges also directed the state to file details of the damage to public property during the bandh called by the GJM for a hearing on September 5 and a decision on the quantum of compensation payable by the person or persons responsible for these acts.
“In case any further bandh is called by anyone, they will be liable to face prosecution for contempt of court and pay compensation for violation of human rights,” the judges said.
The GJM leaders went on the defensive after news of the verdict reached the Hills.
“It (the curfew) was the outrage of the public against the heavy deployment of forces to silence the voice of Gorkhaland. It was spontaneous and not clamped by us. We respect the high court order and will file an affidavit as directed. We’re also exploring the possibilities of approaching the Supreme Court,” Roshan Giri, general secretary of the GJM, said.
The directive came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Rama Prasad Sarkar against the bandh.
On the reported janata curfew in Darjeeling, he remarked, “The GJM has not asked the people not to come out of their homes. The people are not coming out on the roads because of the heavy deployment of forces and the harassment they are causing.”
Rejecting this, the judges said even a janata curfew amounted to an illegal bandh.