Hill rivals cross swords post-elections

http://www.telegraphindia.com

Kalimpong/Darjeeling, May 16: A post-election clash between supporters of the GNLF and the PDF has sparked off a heated war of words between the hill rivals, with threats flying thick and fast.

The clash took place at Malli, about 18 km from here, on Sunday night following a feast in the house of a PDF supporter. The host Reena Rai, a local panchayat member, was injured in the clash while her house has been damaged. Rai is presently undergoing treatment at the subdivisional hospital here.

Rai, who is a member of the GNLF(C) (a PDF constituent), had thrown the party for fellow PDF supporters who had campaigned during the elections. The PDF candidate Norden Lama, however, lost to sitting GNLF legislator Gaulan Lepcha by 25,000 votes.

On Monday, the PDF activists filed an FIR at the Kalimpong police station, holding four local GNLF activists responsible for the incident. “We have given the police time till tomorrow to arrest the persons named in the FIR. If they fail to do so, we will be forced to launch an agitation which will include strikes and road blockades on the highway,” said D. K. Pradhan, senior PDF leader and president of the GNLF (C).

The GNLF, however, maintained that the PDF supporters were responsible for the violence as they were raising provocative slogans against the GNLF and Lepcha in particular during the party.

“They were shouting slogans like Gaulan Lepcha murdabad. In fact, had I not rushed to the spot and defused the situation, things could have turned for the worse,” said Lepcha. The local MLA warned that the GNLF supporters would be forced to adopt a tit-for-tat policy if their rivals don’t mend their ways.

Meanwhile, in Darjeeling youths have come together in a novel endeavour to fight hoodlums who have become a menace in the town.

In a unique move the youths have decided to form an apolitical body —Pahari Yuwa Sangh — to act as a pressure group in this to lend voice to the helpless in town.

“We had been thinking on how to fight rowdyism in town and we believe that the best way to do so is by channelling the energy of the youths in a positive way”, said Samir Sharma, founder-member of the organisation.

The move comes in the wake of the recent incident in which a group of traders refused to give in to such threats. The venture has the support of the people behind the Darjeeling Carnival.

The group also wishes to start initiatives in areas like employment generation and in addressing social issues like alcoholism, AIDS awareness and substance abuse. The formal body will be formed on May 21.