Jalpaiguri, Feb. 22: Using the cover of darkness, about 300 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters from Chamurchi and Birpara in the Dooars sneaked into Kumani where party president Bimal Gurung has been camping for over four weeks.
Caught on the wrong foot, the Jalpaiguri administration said what had taken place was not a padayatra but a “covert” action that was carried out at night.
The authorities had earlier foiled all attempts by the Morcha to carry out a padayatra from Kumani to Jaigaon in the Dooars to press for the demand for the inclusion of the Terai and the Dooars in the new state that they want.
Attempts to breach a police barricade and enter the Dooars and the subsequent police firing at Sibchu on February 8 made Gurung change plans. He called a “reverse march” from the Dooars to Kumani on February 14.
The Morcha chief said his supporters would march from different places in the Dooars and congregate at Kumani in Kalimpong subdivision on February 27.
Morcha sources said Sandip Chhetri, a member of the Morcha’s Central Dooars committee, led about 200 men and women and started from Chamurchi in Banarhat about 10 last night. They reached Khunia More on NH31C in Nagrakata at 5.30am today. From there, they marched, shouting pro-Gorkhaland slogans via Sibchu to reach Kumani around 7.30am.
The sources said another group of about 100 Morcha supporters left Birpara yesterday evening and reached Kumani, 70km away, early this morning.
“More and more Morcha supporters will reach Kumani soon and wherever they are stopped, they will immediately start an indefinite hunger-strike,” Sandip said upon his arrival at Kumani.
Arindam Sarkar, the subdivisional police officer of Malbazar, said they had no prior information that the Morcha supporters were disregarding the prohibitory orders in the Dooars and entering Kumani.
Jalpaiguri police chief Anand Kumar said: “If someone wants to use the cover of darkness and decide to reach Kumani clandestinely, we have little to do.”
In another development, the subdivisional officer of Malbazar, Debjani Bhattacharya, today requested five Nari Morcha supporters to stop their indefinite hunger-strike at Bagrakote. “Doctors checked the women and found that they were very ill. That is why we requested them to break the fast.”
A bail plea on behalf of the Morcha-backed independent MLA of Kalchini, Wilson Chompromary, was rejected by the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Jalpaiguri today. Chompromary had been arrested on February 8 from Sibchu. The MLA’s lawyer, Pemba Tshering Ola, said the Nagrakata police had slapped fresh charges under the arms act on his client.
Fifteen candidates from Dalsingpara and Toorsa tea gardens could not sit for the School Service Commission examination on Sunday as their admit cards were not delivered on time.
Postmaster of Dalsingpara sub post office Prabir Das said he had not received mails in the past fortnight because of bandh in the Dooars.