A year after the confrontation over the Gorkhaland agitation, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (BT) and the West Bengal government on Friday buried differences to share the stage in observance of the 204th birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya in Darjeeling.
To be precise, there were two separate programmes; one organized by the Darjeeling district administration and the other by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. But, representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha were present in the one organized by the administration and those of the administration in the one organized by GTA.
It was a far cry from July 2017, when, during the height of the statehood movement, West Bengal tourism minister Gautam Deb had gone to Panighatta, in the foothills in Kurseong, to observe Bhanubhakta Jayanti but his convoy was chased back by stone-pelters. As a result Deb had to return to Siliguri and on the way offer garland to the portrait of the Nepali poet on the road-side. The other occasion was in 2013 again during the statehood agitation that Bhanubhakta Jayanti could not observed either by the state government or by the GTA.
On Friday, the district administration organized its own program in Chowrasta, in the upper part of the town, to celebrate the Nepali poet’s birth anniversary. Gautam Deb was present in the company of GTA chairman and GJM president Binoy Tamang. The GTA organized a separate programme at the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan hall in down-town marketto mark the occasion. The state minister did not attend the programme as he was in a hurry and had to leave for Siliguri, but Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta was present on behalf of the state government.
At Chowrasta, the state tourism minister and GTA chairman together offered garland and khaddas (traditional scarves) to the statue of Bhanubhakta and also sat together on the dais indicating that relation between the state government and the hill party was on right track.
Reflecting on last year’s events and disruption in the hills, Deb said: “It is nice that peace has returned in the hills. We need peace and stability so that there is tranquility and development can take place in the region. We (state government and the GTA) are working together.”
In the GTA programme, Tamang did not allude to the past events but assured that henceforth the Bhanubhakta Jayanti programme would be observed in the hills regularly. “Since, the formation of the GTA in 2012, we have been observing Bhanubhakta Jayanti Diwas. I was in-charge of the information and cultural affairs of the council, then. Sadly we could not organize celebratory programmes in 2013 and 2017. I assure everyone that from now on we will organize the programme every year without a break,” he said.
The Bhanubhakta Puruskar was started in 2014 by the GTA, with the aim to honor contributions of personalities in different fields. The award for this year was conferred to Dhan Hang Subba for Lok Sahitya, to Tanka Sharma for cinema and theater and to D.P. Sharma for journalism. On the other hand San Kumar Majhi was conferred with the Master Mitrasen Thapa award for his contribution towards folk-music.
The GTA chairman also announced new awards: Aruna Lama (music), Shiva Kumar Rai (literature), Ganga Prasad Pradhan (education) and D.B. Pariyar (cinema) to be given in the coming years.