Scepticism over normalcy in Hills

The Statesman
27 Oct 2013

tirthankar mitra
Kolkata, 26 Oct: Cutting across party lines, the Opposition, sans the CPI-M, expressed its scepticism over the possibility of normalcy returning to Darjeeling with the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) deciding to forsake the path of agitation following a carrot and stick policy of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. While the state Congress expressed its doubts at the prospect of peace returning  to the hills, strangely enough even after Left Front chairman Biman Bose has welcomed this development, several  Front partners considered it to be a mere ploy on the part of the GJMM to buy time for future agitations.
A day after the GJMM decided not to tread the path of bandh and other forms of agitation, PCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya pointed out that such well meaning resolutions taken by its predecessor, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), were shortlived. It would be a natural step due to it being unable to encourage its supporters to take to the streets in the face of strong measures by the state government, he felt.
After all, the precedents of  the accords in the Darjeeling hills are  pointers to it, Mr Bhattacharya said. Three such past accords, including one inked in the presence of the late prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi did not bring in normalcy, he pointed out.
The PCC chief’s contention was underscored by senior RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharya, who felt that the GJMM is seeking a breather to regroup its activists who are in disarray after the recent crackdown. The residents of the Darjeeling hills need not be assured of a return to lasting peace  despite the recent bonhomie between the Trinamul Congress and the GJMM, which is buying time, he felt.
The GJMM calling off its agitation plans was viewed by veteran CPI leader  Manju Majumdar as a result of the government crackdown and the powers that be pandering to the Lepcha community. Mr Majumdar wondered if the Trinamul government’s sudden concern at the travails of the Lepchas has an ulterior motive of driving  a wedge in the racial identity of the hill populace.
Sowing dissension in the ranks of an agitation has seldom ensured a lasting peace in Darjeeling, the CPI leader felt. Since the Trinamul government’s deeds have not been in keeping with its words, he did not rule out a fresh eruption of the demand for a separate state in the hills.
The situation in the hills is a mere truce between the agitators and the government and not lasting peace, BJP state president Rahul Sinha said. The CPI-M-dominated front had started a process of dividing the people of the hills and the plains and its successor, the Trinamul government, is following suit by sowing dissension between the Gorkhas and Lepchas, which augurs ill for Darjeeling and ~ in the long run for the state ~ he apprehended.

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