President’s rule after 90 days of shutdown: Wild rumours doing the rounds in Darjeeling
The rumours have become so intense that Darjeeling Bar Association office bearers had to hold a press conference to dispel them.
When there are no real hopes on the ground, rumour mills start working. With 85 days of indefinite shutdown behind them, and an indeterminate duration ahead, the people of the hills and foothills of Darjeeling are circulating wild rumours -- after the bandh hits 90 days, there will be President’s rule in the ‘Gorkhaland’ region that will set the ball rolling for a separate state. From petrol pump workers to doctors, housewives to retired persons, almost everybody is carrying forward the piece of fantasy.
With all sections of the society in the hills passing through untold suffering for 85 days, a section of the masses are anxiously waiting for just another five days of hardship to take them to the threshold of their dreams.
Read: Gorkhaland stir: No school, playground or internet for children in Darjeeling
“The imposition of Presidents’ Rule under article 356 of the Constitution would pave the way for creation of separate state of Gorkhaland,” said Maya Chettri, 39, a housewife. A resident of Sonada, she has been the part of the Gorkhaland movement since June 17, when three people were killed in police firing.
What made her believe so? “I heard the same from local leaders,” said Chettri.
Dipak Tomar, a cardiologist in Siliguri, has also fallen victim to the rumours. “When so much has been sacrificed and lost, it makes sense to continue the bandh only for a few days that will invite the intervention of the President of the country,” he told this correspondent.
The rumours are circulating for the past two weeks. It is believed that some political leaders, who are convinced that the movement is heading nowhere and they are losing people’s support, are spreading it. “If that is true, why aren’t the Bodos resorting to a 90-day strike to get Bodoland? They can use guns to enforce a 90-month shutdown if they want?” said Rajen Mukhia, Darjeeling district (hills) committee of Trinamool Congress.
Read: Bandh till Centre calls tripartite meet on Gorkhaland: Bimal Gurung
People like K K Pradhan (73), a retired havildar of the Border Security Force (BSF), and Anil Sunam , who work at a petrol pump near Ghoom are ardent supporters of a separate state.
“People should be ready to sacrifice more for five days when they can Gorkhaland by doing so,” said Pradhan, who is a resident of Rohini in Kurseong. He and Sunam have been attending the pro-Gorkhaland rallies every day since the agitation was launched in middle of June.
The rumours have spread to such an extent that Narayan Pradhan, senior lawyer and executive member of Darjeeling Bar Association called a press conference on Tuesday to clear the air. “Though article 356 of the Constitution has the provision for imposition of the President’s rule in a state, the belief that 90 days of bandh would invite it is absurd and false. None should indulge in this rumour mongering,” Pradhan said.
Read: Indefinite Darjeeling bandh bleeds Siliguri’s business of Rs 2 crore every day
But that advice hardly seems to have any effect.
Sunam’s 16-year-old daughter is suffering from tuberculosis and is admitted to S B Dey Sanatorium in Kurseong. From his home in Ghoom Sundas walks more than 11 hours every week to visit her daughter. The father of two is equally convinced that relief may be just five days away.
Since June 15 life has been completely paralysed in the north Bengal hills with the educational institutions, tourism and tea industry turning out to be the biggest victims.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung has said that the bandh will continue till the Centre calls a tripartite meeting on Gorkhaland. On August 13, Union home minister Rajnath Singh told a team of agitators in Delhi that the Centre has nothing to do with the demand and they must talk to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has vowed not to allow another partition of Bengal.