Hills tense ahead of April 5 events

TheTimes Of India

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DARJEELLING: The Hills is once again staring at a showdown, in the grip of apprehension and trouble is expected to erupt with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) party deciding to hold their political programmes on the same day – April 5.

The GNLF party, under the leadership of Subash Ghisingh, was formed on April 5, 1980 with the aim of achieving a separate Gorkhaland state and since then every year it has been observing its foundation day on April 5. GJM, on the other hand, will be organizing its political programme on April 5 in the entire Hills areas.

After the GJM came to power in 2007, the GNLF leaders have refrained from observing the foundation day in a big way in the Hills. Though, small gatherings of GNLF supporters have taken place in some areas of the Hills. “We have plans to observe our party’s foundation day on April 5 in a big way. We are trying to get our party president to attend the programme,” said a senior GNLF leader from the Terai, not wanting to be named

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Ghisingh is presently holed up in a rented apartment in Jalpaiguri, after he and other party leaders were hounded out from the Hills in 2008, following the killing of a GJM supporter in July that year.

In last one month, clashes between GJM and GNLF supporters were reported from the fringe areas of Kurseong. Two TMC supporters were roughed up in Kalimpong, allegedly by GJM supporters with police already arresting five accused.

“Ours is a pre-planned and announced programme. We have no intention to disturb other political parties,” said Priyabardhan Rai, the Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM) general secretary.

The main agenda for the GJM program will be the demand for Gorkhaland state and also to strengthen the party base in the rural areas where incidents of supporters joining the GNLF camp have been reported. “Our main issue will be Gorkhaland. But, we will be organizing public meetings on that day at various places in the Hills,” Rai said.

The GNLF will be holding its programme at Simulbari in Sukna in the foothills, while GJM will be organizing its event in the 45 Hills constituencies which include the foothills too.

“See five years have passed and the GJM party is on the back foot. People now are losing faith on them and have started defecting to other parties. In fact, during the foundation day program on April 5, GJM supporters from the Lohagarh area of Simulbari will join us,” maintained the GNLF leader.

Ever since the fall out with the state government over the Gorkhaland issue, GJM supporters have been defecting to rival camps. More then 200 GJM supporters from the Kurseong sub-division have already joined the GNLF, while some from the Dooars and Panighatta area have gone to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party.

Police though are already in an alert mode with incidents of political clashes taking place in the Hills. “We are aware of the situation prevailing in the Hills and are on the alert. About the GNLF-GJM political program on April 5, we are closely monitoring the situation,” said a senior police official.

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