Lava no to strike, for Puja tourists

http://www.thestatesman.net

Romit Bagchi

LAVA (Kalimpong), 31 AUG: The residents of Lava, a tourist spot around 30 kms from Kalimpong town, seem to be grappling with a queer fear of being strike-struck with the festive season approaching.

Flanked by hierarchical layers of the majestic Himalayas and dense with sky-piercing pines, the sleepy spot never ceases to beckon tourists from far and near. The mainstay of the local economy being dependent on tourism, the residents wait anxiously for the festive season, which, though mainly spanning over a month from Durga Puja to Diwali, drags on somehow up till March.

Given the political inscrutability in the Darjeeling hills over the intractable Gorkhaland tangle, the people seem to be appealing to Providence for gifting them a trouble free festive season this year. “ Placed in a tight spot, we cannot afford to lose a tourist season this time, for much of our earnings come through the tourists. The tourists never disappoint us unless there are some disturbances on the political front. Yet, we are not certain whether peace would be allowed to prevail. Any small skirmish anywhere in the strife-scarred hills might entangle our place too in the frenzy. And something like an indefinite shutdown at this critical juncture would definitely dash our hopes,” said Mrs Prema Pradhan, a local hotelier.

Apart from the likely pecuniary loss in case of ethnic conflagration during the festive time, there is another aspect, which too appalls the people inhabiting this picturesque spot. “We are attached to the Gorkhaland cause. But if the movement thrives on some kind of an ethnic xenophobia we cannot support it, for cosmopolitanism is something, which is ingrained in us. A movement exclusively catering to ethnic antagonism is bound to ebb out with time, as this is something alien to our assimilative culture, all-embracing in its hospitable essence,” said Mr Nirnay Rasailli, a local ecclesiastic.

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