Trouble brews over statue

Kalimpong, April 18: The ABGL’s decision to reinstall the statue of its leader Damber Bahadur Gurung at Damber Chowk here is threatening to snowball into a controversy.

The bust of Gurung, which had replaced that of Queen Victoria in the early 70s, was removed by unidentified persons in the next decade.

The current crisis began when the GNLF-controlled Kalimpong Municipality issued a directive to the ABGL on April 12, asking it not to install the statue of Gurung at the chowk, or the town centre. The board of councillors said it would hinder freedom of speech as the place is used as a podium to address the public by various organisations, including political parties.

But the ABGL has pointed out that the land belongs to the Darjeeling Improvement Fund, not the civic body. “We will file a writ petition in the high court if the municipality does not budge from its position,” said Pratap Khati, a politburo member of the party.

The CPM, on its part, has objected to the municipality’s claim that the queen’s bust was stolen by “miscreants”. “In fact, it was removed by the leaders of Kalimpong as part of the nationwide trend of doing away with symbols of the British Raj,” said party leader Tara Sundas.

Civic chairman C.K. Kumai could not be contacted.

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