Siliguri, March 26: The GNLF today accused the state government of ignoring the plight of its supporters, alleging that around 200 families had been hounded out of the hills and their houses ransacked or torched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ever since its emergence almost three years ago.
It also said the government had trashed the order of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directing the administration to ensure that all GNLF supporters returned home safely.
“The Morcha leaders and their followers have either torched or ransacked at least 65 houses of our supporters spread across the three hill subdivisions. Also, more than 200 families have been terrorised and forced to leave the hills by the Morcha. They are spending their days outside their homes, and the state government and police remain mute spectators,” said the GNLF’s Kalimpong branch president, Dawa Pakhrin.
Pakhrin threatened to sit on an indefinite hunger strike in front of Writers’ Buildings in Calcutta to protest the state government’s inability to arrest the culprits responsible for the crimes against GNLF supporters.
“Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is our chief minister as well and he cannot shun his responsibilities. We want the state to immediately establish the rule of law in the hills and take punitive action against those guilty of attacking the GNLF workers and torching and looting their houses. If he continues to remain silent to our requests, we would have no other option but to launch an indefinite hunger strike. Our party leaders will sit within a fortnight to chalk out the final plan for agitation,” he added.
According to Pakhrin, GNLF supporters have been crying hoarse over the issue since 2008 and had approached Bhattacharjee, Union home minister P. Chidambaram and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Pakhrin’s house in Kalimpong was torched along with the homes of several other GNLF leaders on July 26, 2008. The arson followed the death of Morcha supporter Pramila Sharma from a bullet fired allegedly from the house of the GNLF Darjeeling branch president Deepak Gurung a day earlier. The latest victim of alleged Morcha atrocity is Kurseong GNLF MLA Shanta Chhetri, whose house was set on fire on February 18.
“We had also filed petitions with the National Human Rights Commission, mentioning our plight. The NHRC had sent orders in December 2008 to the Bengal chief secretary and the director-general of police, directing them to take action against those who had indulged in these crimes and make arrangements so that we can return home. Nothing, however, has happened so far and we are still staying in Siliguri and in the plains,” the GNLF leader said.
The orders, issued by the assistant registrar (law) of the NHRC asks “……the state government of West Bengal to provide adequate protection to the leaders and members of GNLF and to take appropriate action against those who indulge in criminal activities…”.
It was further mentioned in the order that “…the state cannot abdicate its constitutional duty to protect the life and liberty of citizens. Omission to take action against persons indulging in crime amounts to negligence in prevention or violation of human rights…”.
Asked about the future plans of the GNLF, Pakhrin said: “We are not getting minimum legal support from the state or the police. There is no democratic ambience that allows the coexistence of all political parties in the hills. That is why we plan to go to the chief minister. Our party leaders are also contemplating holding a public meeting in Calcutta to apprise the residents of the state of the atrocities of the Morcha and the apathy of the state.”
Morcha leaders, however, have denied the allegations levelled by the GNLF. “They must not forget that they were responsible for the deaths of more than 1,200 people in the eighties when Subash Ghisingh led the bloody movement for Gorkhaland,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
“We feel they are poor in statistics and are furnishing irrational figures. Forget 200, let them just name 20 families whose houses were torched and they were shoved out of the hills.
“It is better that the GNLF does not speak of democracy as, any party or individual in the hills, can voice his/her stand now, while during the GNLF era, nobody dared to speak out,” Chhetri added.