Darjeeling, July 29: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has taken over Subash Ghisingh’s “palatial” two-storeyed house at his native village in Manju Tea Estate, around 15km from Mirik, and converted it into a unit office.
In the past three-four days, Morcha supporters have damaged and burnt down properties of GNLF leaders across the hills. The retaliatory attacks followed the incident on Friday in which a shot fired allegedly from Darjeeling GNLF president Deepak Gurung’s house killed a woman Morcha supporter, Pramila Sharma.
The Morcha leadership in Manju acted otherwise.
“Instead of vandalising Ghisingh’s house, Lepcha Villa, we decided to take it over. After all, the palatial building has been constructed with public money and now it rightfully belongs to the people. We took control of it on July 27,” said Roshan Thapa, the president of the Morcha’s Manju village unit.
Ghisingh has never spent a night at the “white palace” — as the villagers call the house — built in 1999-2000. The GNLF leader had shifted base to Dr Zakir Hussain Road in Darjeeling town ever since the start of the Gorkhaland movement in 1986.
Thapa claimed that a number of contractors had pooled money to build the house for Ghisingh even though he had left Manju by then. “We estimate that the total expenditure of the house has crossed Rs 50 lakh. That is why we believe this to be a public property, or else where did Ghisingh get the money to construct the building?” Thapa asked.
The keys of the house were with Ghisingh’s brother-in-law, K.P. Allay, who lives nearby. “When we asked for the keys, Allay promptly handed them over to us,” said Thapa.
Maichang Allay, Ghisingh’s sister, died in 2006. K.P. Allay, who was out “on an errand”, could not be contacted today, but his daughter-in-law, Satya Allay, agreed to talk.
Morcha flags flutter atop Lepcha Villa. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
“My father-in-law did give the keys after around 40-45 boys came to our house in a jeep and a lot of motorcycles. Did we have an option?” Satya asked.
The Morcha has taken over the entire house and put up its flags on the first-floor balcony. “Four rooms are being used as offices of the Morcha, Nari Morcha (women’s wing), Yuwa Morcha (youth wing) and the labour wing of the party,” said Thapa.
The rest of the three rooms will be used for “community purposes”, he added.
Ghisingh, who has been forced out of the hills and is currently staying in Siliguri, refused comment on the takeover of his house.