VIVEK CHHETRI AND RAJEEV RAVIDASg
Nov. 3: The Darjeeling hill opposition today decided to launch a movement after Diwali against the “bullying tactics” of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, whose supporters attacked the house of a GNLF member in a Kalimpong village on Monday night.
Morcha leaders said the attack had been “provoked” by the villager’s “temerity” to visit the Jalpaiguri house of party chief Subash Ghisingh.
The attack on the house of Muna Mani Pradhan, a former GNLF panchayat member, took place in Kumai along the border with Bhutan, a day after he had called on Ghisingh in Jalpaiguri. According to an FIR lodged with Jaldhaka police outpost yesterday, the incident took place at 11.15 on Monday night when Pradhan was away and women and children in his family were sleeping indoors.
“A group of men went to my house and smashed the windows after breaking the bulb in the veranda. My wife, widowed sister-in-law and two children were at home,” Pradhan told The Telegraph over the phone from Kumai.
Pradhan said he had deliberately stayed away from home after he had got wind that he could be targeted. “Those who attacked my house knew that I was not at home. I never imagined that they would target my house knowing there were only women and children. What saddens me is that at a time others are decorating their homes for Diwali, my house is in a shambles,” said Pradhan.
The Morcha supporters targeted Pradhan after he had been spotted in a picture published in a local daily showing the GNLF sympathisers gathered in front of Ghisingh’s house.
Local Morcha leaders today warned that other GNLF supporters would also face the same fate if they made the “mistake” of meeting Ghisingh.
“If they repeat the mistake, they will face social boycott and may also be uprooted from the village,” said Madan Lepcha, the secretary of the Morcha’s Kumai unit.
Hill opposition leaders said one of the reasons for the Morcha’s “belligerence” was the fact that the GNLF had started forming village committees in the hills in recent weeks and resumed political activities after a gap of almost three years.
As the news of the attack trickled in, the hill opposition said they would protest against the Morcha’s “strong-arm tactics” to curb the political rights of the people.
“We have decided to press for the political rights of the people and we will demand immediate elections to panchayat and municipalities,” said Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL.
The hill opposition, which mainly comprises the ABGL, CPRM, GNLF (C), Sikkim-Darjeeling Akaikaran Manch and the TMC (Hills), said they would also step up its movement against the new interim authority for the hills.
“We have decided to hold a massive rally in Darjeeling this month,” said Sherpa.