Kalimpong, Oct. 29: With the recently-formed United Gorkha Liberation Army (UGRA) trying to make its presence felt in the subdivision, residents of the area fear that violence may return to the hills, nearly two decades after the Gorkhaland agitation.
Their anxiety can be sensed from the fact that since the UGRA rebels gunned down a GNLF activist on Tuesday, not a day has passed without rumours of fresh killings.
The Telegraph spoke to five residents to gauge the mood. Here go their thoughts:
Prafulla Rao (former air force officer):
“We have just emerged from a long, dreary monsoon. Now, I would hate humans to take over where nature left and again pour misery into our lives.
But more seriously, the tourist season is in full swing, schools are busy readying the students for their final exams and horticulturists are preparing their stocks for export. I certainly think it to be foolish getting into a fratricidal war where no one will win.”
Bharat Mani Pradhan (a social worker):
“As a citizen of Kalimpong and India, one wonders how many more deprived and marginalised citizens of this country will have to shed their blood before the authorities concerned fulfil their written commitment. Will they still dilly-Delhi or sign yet another MoU on a piece of cheap newsprint, while a tranquil part of Mother India is poised for a blood-bath. No blame game here. We know where the black buck stops.”
Prabakar Dewan (senior lawyer):
“Any kind of political violence is not acceptable. After all, we live in a democratic country and there are legitimate ways to express our grievances.
However, what must also be stated is that all these things are happening primarily due to the inaction of the government. Such negligence from the government will always give rise to resentment. I am, of course, worried over the present situation, especially since it directly effects the economy. The end result of the infighting will be nil.”
Nima Fonning Lepcha (entrepreneur):
“Business flourishes when there is peace. When there is violence, or even a threat of it, the economy becomes the first casualty. As a result, I am worried over the recent change in the political scenario, or if you like, the law and order situation in our town.
Having lived through the violence of the eighties as a young kid, I don’t want to see a re-run of it. I can only pray and hope that our worst fears don’t come true.”
Saurav Singh Biswakarma (student):
“The uncertainty status is not good for us students. Already, our parents have started imposing curfew, asking us to return home before 6 pm. When there is so much of tension in the air, it becomes very difficult for us to focus on our studies. In fact, an entire generation of students had to pay dearly during the Gorkhaland agitation.”