Darjeeling impasse: Gurung’s photo removed on GJM foundation day; Tamang mounts pressure on BJP
In a bid to isolate GJM founder Bimal Gurung from the masses, Benoy Tamang and Anit Thapa celebrated the party’s foundation day in his absence and demanded a bill on Gorkhaland in Parliament.kolkata Updated: Oct 07, 2017 22:02 IST
Bimal Gurung, the man who founded Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on October 7, 2007 and called the shots in the Darjeeling hills till recently, stayed inside his hideout to avoid arrest even as GJM turned 11 on Saturday.
Gurung’s detractors and now chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s representatives in the hill administration, Benoy Tamang and Anit Thapa celebrated the occasion in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong while Gurung’s men observed the day in remote areas.
Both Tamang and Thapa were expelled from GJM more than a month ago but on Saturday they went all out to take over the party’s leadership. Gurung’s photographs were removed from GJM offices and Tamang - now the state-nominated chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration - dared the NDA Government to place a bill in Parliament on formation of Gorkhaland.
Incidentally, BJP workers accompanying the party’s Bengal president Dilip Ghosh were kicked and punched in the heart of Darjeeling on Friday and Ghosh alleged that the attackers were Tamang’s followers. While Ghosh tried to portray Gurung as the real leader of the movement, Tamang on Saturday threw a challenge at Ghosh saying the BJP should deliver on its electoral promises which included a separate state for the Gorkhas.
In a bid to hit back, Gurung released an audio message for his followers in the evening saying he would not give up the fight for a separate state under any circumstance. Tamang and Thapa have betrayed the cause, alleged Gurung and called upon the hill people to not succumb to pressure from the police.
The police patrolled areas around the GJM office at Patlaybus in Darjeeling and announced over public address system that Gurung should surrender immediately. Gurung and senior GJM leaders are facing charges under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Though a large section of hill people are anxiously waiting for Gurung’s next move, many GJM supporters and leaders have started joining the Tamang camp, admitted local leaders of the party.
In Kalimpong, supporters of the rival camps were about to get into a clash but the leaders somehow brought the situation under control. However, party flags without Gurung’s image were hoisted for the first time indicating a change in loyalty among active GJM workers.