|Bimal Gurung at Soureni on Tuesday. (Suman Tamang)|
Darjeeling, May 7: GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung has started an extensive tour of Soureni, where supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the GNLF clashed on Sunday, with a promise of the area’s development through the hill body.
Gurung’s trip to Soureni and the surrounding villages in Mirik block may be seen as an effort by him to consolidate the Morcha’s support base at a time the GNLF has heightened its political activities in the area. The Morcha chief’s visit started yesterday and would continue for five days.
“The GNLF has revived its political activities in Mirik after remaining dormant ever since the party lost popular support in 2007. The GNLF is slowly but steadily making inroads into the Mirik-Terai belt and is consolidating its support base. Its obvious that Gurung wants to personally take stock of the situation and ensure that there is no further erosion of his support base,” said an observer.
The violence broke out on Sunday when GNLF supporters who were on their way from the Dooars to Soureni were attacked by alleged Morcha cadres. The Morcha denied the charge, saying the GNLF workers had provoked the general public and police didn’t do enough to stop them.
The Morcha chief today started his visit from Khabari village and met his supporters and local people at Bhutta Khati, Nol, Manabari, Dhakala, Gayabari, Singbuli and Phuguri.
Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha and a GTA executive member, said: “We also visited Manju village (which is GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh’s native place) last evening and went to the houses of our party supporters who were injured in the clash. However, more than a political visit, the trip is to find out the needs of the people of the area.”
The Morcha said Gurung had spoken to the villagers at length and took note of their immediate requirements.
“Many of these places lack proper connectivity and many villages haven’t been electrified yet. All these inconveniences have been noted and the GTA will immediately start work in these areas to address the grievances of the general public,” said Tamang, who is accompanying Gurung.
Asked if Gurung had tried to woo the GNLF cadres, Tamang replied in the negative. “As I have said, this was not a political visit but a trip in his capacity as the chief executive of the GTA to get a first hand account of the problems the people face in this region. He will be touring the Mirik area for the next four to five days.”