The stage is set for a mighty showdown in the Hills with both Trinamool Congress and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gearing up for a show of strength and political space in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
GJM SENSED LOOSENED HOLD
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the leading party in the Darjeeling hills and advocate of separate state of Gorkhaland for the people, is in a difficult position with members quitting the party either for Trinamool Congress or for JAP (Jana Andolan Party), which is its offshoot. The policy of poaching, which Trinamool Congress adopted to increase its tally has affected the GJM. The party's principal agenda of a separate state is also not finding many takers.
Yet the bandh called by GJM today was a huge success as Hill people preferred to go on a holiday instead of risking their lives in the confrontation between the Trinamool Congress and GJM supporters.
The ruling Trinamool Congress has left no stones unturned in making the bandh a flop show. Three ministers are camping in the Hills to ensure normalcy. But the situation is far from being normal. Schools, colleges, government offices were kept open and public transport was plying, but very few people were willing to step out of their houses.
|GJM called bandh in Darjeeling 28th Sep 2016|
The division bench of Calcutta High Court has passed an order and asked the government to ensure an atmosphere of normalcy for people. However, the government was unable to build up confidence among people to feel free.
"People of Hills want peace and development. They don't want disturbance. The success of the bandh does not indicate that GJM still holds influence among the Hill people. If people have stayed away from work, it is because they are peace loving," said Harka Bahadur Chhetri of JAP. For Mamata, the outcome of the bandh cannot be music to the ears, but she is still hoping that appearance can be deceptive.
Bandh in Darjeeling Hills sees dull response - PTI
Darjeeling, Sep 28 (PTI) The 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district today failed to evoke much response, even as over 200 GJM supporters were detained for trying to enforce the shutdown.
Government buses arrived at Darjeeling with tourists escorted by security personnel. Private vehicles were however off the roads.
Around 98 per cent of attendance was recorded in government offices and private schools were open. Shops were mostly closed. Bank ATMs were found to be open also.
At around 11 AM, two toy trains plied with domestic and foreign tourists to Ghoom station from Darjeeling.
This was the first time in the DHR history that a toy train operated during a bandh.
Darjeeling District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava told reporters that more than 200 hundred GJM supporters were detained. Three Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) members were arrested during the bandh.
Three state ministers -- Gautam Deb, Rabindra Nath Ghose and James Kujur monitored the situation in the three hill sub-Divisions.
Opposing the bandh, Chief Minister Mamata Banjeree had yesterday stated that there should be no more shutdown and blockades.
"Bengal's economy was affected by bandhs. There was enough bandh politics," she said.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called the shutdown alleging the state government has failed to give details of Rs 4,000 crore, which the chief minister has claimed to have given to the GTA.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung, however, claimed that the shutdown was "successful".
"People in the Hills have observed a peaceful bandh," he said, adding TMC has unleashed an autocratic rule.
State tourism minister Gautam Deb, who camped at Kalimpong, said GJM supporters damaged three cars of TMC activists and the police is taking action.
On the closure of shops, he said there was a fear among shop owners and that the state government has taken all steps to maintain normalcy.
Darjeeling reels under GJM bandh - thehindu
Political temperatures went soaring in the Darjeeling hills on Wednesday over the 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The GJM has been demanding a separate Gorkha homeland to be carved out of three hill subdivisions of West Bengal, which is opposed by all major parties of the State.
While the bandh was called by the GJM after recent comments of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been allocated Rs. 4,000 crore by the State government, the GJM however has raked up Gorkhaland issue. A statement issued by GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, “Those opposing Gorkhaland will get more energy if the bandh is unsuccessful”
More than 250 GJM supporters were detained till Wednesday afternoon, District Magistrate Anurag Srivastava told journalists.
“We are checking if tourists are stranded. Vehicles are available in the hills… Some shops are open,” he said.
There were reports of vehicles being attacked in Kalimpong and Mr. Srivastava said strong action will be taken.
The three-hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong saw huge deployment of police during the shutdown. Hundreds of supporters of the GJM also took to the streets shouting slogans.
Three Ministers of the Trinamool Congress government were present in each of the subdivisions trying to ensure that shops and commercial establishment remain open.
Supporters of the Trinamool Congress also brought out rallies raising the pitch against the GJM supporters.
Darjeeling tense over bandh call - tribuneindia
Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service
Kolkata, September 27 Undeterred by a High Court directive, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is all set to go ahead with its call for 12-hour bandh tomorrow in the Darjeeling Hill areas.
“We have not seen the court order. Bandh will be observed in the hills tomorrow”, Rooshan Giri, GJM general secretary, said.
Responding to a petition filed by Trinamool Congress leader Idris Ali, the Calcutta High Court today directed the state government to ensure that normal life is not disrupted in view of the bandh called by GJM tomorrow.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has vowed to foil the bandh call and the court directive has come to her as a shot in the arm to crack down on supporters of the bandh.
“The court has said it can start a suo motu contempt proceeding against GJM as bandhs are illegal and unconstitutional,” Amit Javalgi, Superintendent of Police of Darjeeling district, said, indicating the police resolve to take strong action against supporters of the bandh.
“Adequate forces are being deployed so that normal life is not affected in the hills tomorrow,” Javalgi added.
However, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, who formed Jana Andolon Party (JAP) after breaking away from the GJM, said if strong arm methods were used against GJM supporters tomorrow, Mamata Banerjee would be walking in the trap of the GJM because this was what GJM leader Bimal Gurung wanted.
“Bimal Gurung wants police to come down heavily on his supporters tomorrow. Violence will benefit him politically”, Chhetri, former GJM MLA from Kalimpong constituency, said.
The state government has also issued a circular making it mandatory for employees in the hills to come to the office tomorrow. Three ministers – James Kujur (tribal welfare), Rabindranath Ghosh (North Bengal Development) and Gautam Deb (Tourism) – are camping, respectively, at Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
“The ministers are interacting with public. They are here to give the message that the state government is serious about its opposition to the bandh call by the GJM”, Anurag Srivastava, District Magistrate of Darjeeling, said.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri said the current dispute between the state government and GJM should have been sorted out across the table since the issue involved was about the quantum of funds released by the state government to the GTA for development.
“Why put common people into discomfort by calling a bandh”, Chhetri said. Chhetri, who was backed by Mamata in the Assembly elections held earlier this year, said GJM called the bandh to regain the influence it once enjoyed in the hills.
GJM managed to retain all three Assembly seats in the hills in the 2016 General Elections but the victory margins of its candidates were considerably less than the 2011 elections.
Bandh Called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Halts Public Life in Darjeeling - news18
Sougata Mukhopadhyay | CNN-News18
Kolkata: A 12-hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) hit public life in Darjeeling on Wednesday as commercial establishments remained shut, defying the state government calls to boycott the strike.
The bandh, called by the GJM in support of a separate state of Gorkhaland, has been termed “illegal” by the Calcutta high court. Several shopkeepers and transport operators, however, supported the bandh in the upper reaches of West Bengal.
There were no reports of violence but minor tension was reported from Kurseong and Kalimpong towns where sympathisers of the ruling Trinamool Congress who were opposing the strike came face to face with GJM supporters who laid siege to important junctions of the hills to make the bandh a success.
The strike is being seen as the beginning of a new phase of protests in the hills as the GJM renews its calls for a separate Gorkhaland.
Seven companies of central forces and large contingents of the state police have been deployed to thwart attempts at disturbing peace. Trinamool Congress leaders Gautam, Rabindranath Ghosh and James Kujur have set up camp in the area to monitor the situation.