Fair outside Mayfair: Gorkhas show numbers, hold festivities near venue

www.indianexpress.com

Tuesday , Dec 22, 2009 at 0247 hrs
Darjeeling

Asim Rai, a student of Class XII who had come from Miju near Darjeeling along with his friends, had been standing outside Mayfair Hotel, the venue of the tripartite talks, since 9 am.

“We are alienated from the people of the plains. We do not get jobs even though there are umpteen promises. The best schools in our country are here in Darjeeling and we don’t have a place there. It is full of children from outside Darjeeling. We believe once we get Gorkhaland, all these problems will be solved,” said Rai, one of the thousands of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters who stood and waited outside the venue in anticipation of the outcome.

While all those The Indian Express spoke to said they were waiting for the day when Gorkhaland became a reality, some even threatened self-immolation for a separate state.

“If Gorkhaland is not carved out this time, we will start self-immolations. During the earlier agitation (the one spearheaded by the GNLF), so many of our people laid down their lives. I can’t understand how many sacrifices the Central government needs for giving us our separate state, which is a legitimate demand,” said Shanti Chhetri.

None of them wanted anything short of Gorkhaland. “Sometimes, we hear we may get Union territory. But if the Morcha leadership agrees, it will be a treachery to us. Our demand is older than the one for Telangana. The government must understand this,” said S B Thami, a retired CRPF official who was part of the crowd.

As the GJM leadership and representatives of the Central and the state governments deliberated over Gorkhaland’s fate at the Mayfair Hotel, hundreds of GJM volunteers, mostly girls, stood at various points in the city, clad in uniform and wielding lathis to control vast crowds.

The entire Gorkha population in the city, both male and female, wore their traditional dresses and came out on the streets, as decreed by the GJM leadership. They walked past the hotel carrying placards sporting the “we want Gorkhaland” message.

There was a festive mood everywhere with people dancing at the Mall, rejoicing at what they regarded as fruitful talks that would eventually lead to Gorkhaland.

In the end, they heaved a sigh of relief as the Morcha leadership did not call for any bandh this time. “It’s good that no bandh call was given. It means we can do brisk business during Christmas,” said a shopkeeper.

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www.kalimpong.info

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