Darjeeling and the nearby hill areas in West Bengal have recently witnessed a renewed demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland after the Mamata Banerjee led West Bengal government decided to make Bengali language compulsory for schools in a region where people predominantly speak Nepali.
The protests have taken a toll with about 3 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists dying due to alleged police firing and a security personnel too getting seriously injured owing to the protests. This protest didn’t look like abating any time soon after the Center decided to cancel the all party talks at the request of the state government and Mamata too decided to go on a visit to Netherlands at such a critical juncture.
An article by senior journalist Kanchan Gupta gives a context and history of the Gorkhaland issue and talks about how Mamata had started to get into expansionist mode in order to try and stifle the possibility of a Gorkhaland movement. The report details how she began encroaching on the Gorkhas’ land, struck allegiances with disgruntled Gorkha leaders, and also made an informal alliance of sorts with the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
All this had paid dividends and TMC managed to win the municipality of Mirik, but ended up losing Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. This though didn’t stop the party from going on a complete celebratory drive.
Now it seems that whatever little infrastructure and political setup the TMC has in the hills has started to crumble owing to mass disgruntlement of its party workers. Local media outlet The Darjeeling Chronicle reported on Tuesday that massive resignations have marred the TMC in the hills.
It is reported that various prominent leaders and supporters of the party continued to resign as a protest against the atrocities of the state government. Leaders who have resigned include the prominent Kalimpong leader Maximus Kalikotey, TMC Mahila Congress ward 2 President, TMC block 2 Vice-President, TMC youth congress block 2 chief convener, a Hill TMC committee President among others. Along with the leaders, various supporters of the party too seem to be quitting the party.
The TMC seems to have lost the plot so that the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which had indirectly supported the party in the past, has too now forsaken the TMC and and joined hands with the rival Gorkha Jan Mukti morcha.
This exodus from the TMC is not limited to the Gorkha areas. The President and General Secretary of the Sikkim Pradesh TMC, Mr Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha too has resigned from the party as a protest against the violent and the undemocratic measures adopted by the West Bengal government.
This disgruntlement against the TMC establishment however hasn’t stopped the government from taking severe measures to quell the dissent among the people. The administrators of the Darjeeling Chronicle told OpIndia that information exchange too has been made difficult by suspending mobile internet services. The support for the movement seems to be growing with 10,000 people in Sikkim marching in solidarity with Darjeeling. The movement has also garnered support from areas as far as the United Kingdom.
The conflict might not be ending anytime soon as an all party meeting between various hill parties has passed a resolution that they would continue with the strike and won’t take part in the meeting called by the state government in Siliguri on 22nd June.