On Diwali, as firecrackers boom everywhere, Bijanbari in Darjeeling district — the site where a wooden foot bridge collapsed on October 22, claiming 32 lives — has been stunned into silence.
“The news of those killed and injured continues to trickle in; we cannot even think of celebrations at a time like this,” Rajendran Pradhan, a resident of Bijanbari told The Hindu over telephone.
“The mood here is sombre. I have not seen a single house light diyas or put up lights. No one is bursting firecrackers. For us, there is no festival this year,' he said.
Mr. Pradhan, who feels fortunate that his family and he escaped the fate of those who fell into the Little Ragit River when the bridge collapsed, said the area has been “plunged into darkness.”
Diwali followed by Bhai-tika, is one of the most important festivals in the calendar for Gorkhas. But this year none is observing the festivities and rituals associated with either, he added.
With every passing day, news of more persons being injured comes in. The relief efforts are continuing. For now, residents of Bijanbari are caught up in the tragedy – grieving with the families who have lost loved ones, Mr. Pradhan said.
In view of the tragedy, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and all its frontal organisations have called off all official programmes scheduled during this period, said Roshan Giri, General Secretary of GJM.