Normal life in Darjeeling, which was put on hold since the murder of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) leader Madan Tamang five days ago, returned gradually on Wednesday, even as an air uncertainty prevailed over the political future of the region in view of the recent dramatic turn of events.
Central paramilitary forces patrolled the streets of areas considered sensitive. Shops and commercial establishments, as well as educational institutions, that were closed as part of the public outrage over the killing, reopened on the day.
Mr. Tamang's wife Bharati, who has taken over as the ABGL chief, called for the restoration of democracy in the hills. The ABGL is a constituent of the Democratic Front — a conglomerate of some non-GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) parties — that supports the demand for a separate Gorkhaland, though it has its differences with the GJM leadership over how the Statehood movement should be taken forward.
The GJM is bracing itself for, what is being described as, a “show of strength” in the hills through a rally on May 30. State Home Secretary, Samar Ghosh, said here however said that permission is yet to be sought by the party for its proposed public meeting.
Necessary action will also be taken against those responsible for violation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure that were in force in Darjeeling on Tuesday, the Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said.
Though the image of the GJM may have been tarnished in view of the names of some of its top leaders being mentioned in the first information report lodged by the ABGL for conspiring in the killing of Mr. Tamang, GJM president Bimal Gurung has reasserted that the party continues to enjoy the mandate of the people of the region.
A few of the senior GJM leaders who quit the party following Mr. Tamang's murder, have returned to the fold, assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang told The Hindu.
On the May 30 rally, he said it would be held “whether the authorities give us permission to do so or not.”
As for the future of the tripartite talks with the Centre and the State, Mr. Benoy Tamang said “the talks will continue.”
“The next round could be held in the first week of June”, he added.
Though the State has raised questions on the validity of holding the talks under the present circumstances, where the GJM seems to have lost “the mandate” of the people of the region, it has left it to the Centre to take a final decision.
Lieutenant General (retired) Vijay Madan, who had earlier been appointed by the Centre as the interlocutor for the talks, met GJM leaders on Tuesday evening to discuss matters related to the talks.