Normalcy prevailed in Darjeeling on the occasion of Independence Day with a four-day relaxation in the indefinite bandh till August 18, even as GJM party’s president Bimal Gurung said “our justified fight will go on”.
People flocked markets and queued up outside ATMs as traffic was back on the roads in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha distributed vegetables, rice and lentils from its central committee office at Singmari in Darjeeling town.
Only 78 families had turned up on Wednesday at the 11 special food outlets opened in the hills by the West Bengal government, District Magistrate Puneet Yadav said.
The DM hoisted the Tricolour in Darjeeling town, while the GJM also hoisted the national flag at it central committee office at Singhmari.
Meanwhile, the number of arrests rose to 322, included that of local GJM leader Nina Tamang from Kalimpong, the office of the Superintendent of Police said.
GJM President Bimal Gurung said in a Facebook post, “On this great day, the nation needs to remember the Gorkha’s voice has not been heard! Our plea has been overlooked! We have not been able to change the mind-set of our adversaries.
“But our justified fight will go on despite all obstacles. We will not lose faith in the Constitution and the nation to give us justice,” he said.
“The Hon’ble PM must hear our prayer and spare a thought for us! Our democratic and peaceful movement for statehood is being forcefully crushed,” Mr. Gurung said.
“Can we take this as the reward for defending the country’s borders and sacrificing our lives? What wrong have we committed to be treated like this and being asked to go to China or Nepal to ask for statehood?” he said in the post.
Echoing his views, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said at a press conference here that Gorkhas were citizens and enjoyed the same rights as citizens elsewhere in the country.
Mr. Giri said a second all party meeting will be held on Friday to chalk out the future course of action after the four day relaxation in the indefinite bandh which began on August 3.
He said the meeting to appoint a successor to Mr. Gurung, who had resigned as the CEO of the hill council Gorkha Territorial Administration, which was scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed for 10 days.
Mr. Giri said the GTA Sabha chairman Pradeep Pradhan had erroneously given three days notice for the meeting whereas 10 days were required.
The GJM president also said “random arrests on previous thumped up (trumped up) charges goes against the letter and spirit of the Tripartite Agreement.
“The Government’s clamping down with draconian measures is to instil fear in the minds of the people. People are being further alienated. Instead of building bridges, Government’s hardened stance is making our resolve even stronger,” Mr. Gurung alleged.
On Wednesday, The Calcutta High Court had expressed displeasure over the GJM’s violation of its order of August 7, which had held the indefinite bandh to demand Gorkhaland as illegal.
Observing that the fundamental rights of people in Darjeeling were being curbed, it had asked why the GJM will not be asked to compensate damage to public and private property in the hills.
The bench had directed the state government to assess damage to public and private property in the hills and submit a report to the court.