Morcha chief admits bandh concern

Kalimpong, Jan. 30: The president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Bimal Gurung, today said civil society’s concern about disruption of normal life in the hills in the present political climate would be kept in mind while chalking out the party’s future programmes.

Gurung, however, said at times options become limited, especially when there are particular situations that demand immediate protest. The Morcha chief, who interacted with a seven-member team of Citizens’ Rights Forum, an NGO here, was responding to a suggestion that the civil society should be consulted before political parties go for strikes or any other form of protests that can disrupt normal life.

The forum, comprising various organisations, came into being late last year following a crippling five-day bandh in the hills imposed by both the Morcha and the GNLF. Later, it had organised a massive rally protesting against the politics of strike.

On January 24, normal life across the hills was paralysed because of a dawn-to-dusk bandh called by the Morcha to demand the arrest of I.N. Pradhan, a GNLF leader in Darjeeling.

During the interaction, forum member A.P. Rai asked Gurung to exempt essential services, including some government departments, from the purview of bandhs. It was the poor people who were affected the most at times of political strife, he said.

“We as a civil society have the right to point out the mistakes as and when your party does something undemocratic,” said forum president N.P. Dixit.

The Morcha president was initially scheduled to address a public meeting at Gorubathan, 70km from here, but was forced to cancel the rally after police raised concerns about his security.


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