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5 Apr 2012

Darjeeling stares at showdown - Morcha and rival GNLF line up programmes in Mirik and Garidhura today

VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Darjeeling, April 4: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is racing to organise events at Garidhura and Mirik where its rival, the GNLF, has already scheduled its foundation day celebrations tomorrow. 
The synchronisation of the two parties’ events is likely to spiral into a showdown specially since there were complaints today that Bimal Gurung’s outfit had torn some of the GNLF flags in town on the eve of the foundation day programmes. The administration has also mobilised forces ahead of tomorrow’s programmes. 

The GNLF alleged that Morcha supporters came in a convoy of 23 vehicles and tore the flags and festoons put up at Rockgarden-Barbotey, 15km from here. “The Morcha members were led by assistant secretary Binay Tamang. 

They came in 23 vehicles and tore the flags and festoons that we had planted for tomorrow’s programme. We will lodge an FIR against Tamang and others,” said Man Hang Subba, the president of the Barbotey village committee of the GNLF. Tamang, however, denied the allegation. 

“The GNLF had been saying it would be organising the foundation day in a grand manner at Barbotey but since the party is unable to do so, it is levelling false allegations.” But Subba said the GNLF decided to scale down the celebrations at the request of party president Subash Ghisingh. 
“We had earlier planned to hold a big event but Sir (Ghisingh) asked us to scale down the celebration. The party will organise small programmes at Barbotey, Jorebunglow, Pulbazar and Lama Gaon at Kaijalay,” said Subba. 
Garidhura is under Kurseong subdivision, about 25km from Siliguri. The subdivional officer of Kurseong, R.K. Jha, said the GNLF had been given permission to organise the foundation day celebrations.
“The GNLF seems to have applied for permission on March 27 and the same has been granted to the party. As the Morcha approached us later, it hasn’t been given the permission to hold a conference,” said Jha. 
The Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha had planned to hold a conference at Garidhura for three days starting today. Priyabardan Rai, general secretary of the Morcha’s youth front, said the organisation was still hopeful of obtaining the permission and the conference could begin tomorrow. 
The outfit, however, has not given any timing for its event. Asked if the Yuwa Morcha was organising the conference just to spoil the GNLF’s foundation day celebrations, Rai replied in the negative. 
Sources said the Yuwa Morcha might refrain from holding the conference in the absence of permission but its supporters were expected to attend a puja to be organised by the “public” at Garidhura. 
The GNLF said nothing could stop the party from celebrating its foundation day at Garidhura, expected to start between 9am and 9.30am. 
“The Morcha does not stop other political parties like the ABGL and the CPRM from holding their programmes. The fact that the Morcha is getting restless over our meeting suggests that they are scared of us. We are holding this function to show that we have a lot of supporters in the hills,” said GNLF convener Nima Lama. 
In Mirik, 40km from Darjeeling, Ghisingh’s party is determined to go ahead with its indoor meeting at Byabsyee Community Hall. The Morcha also said it would hold its own programme to campaign “for the inclusion of the Terai and Dooars” in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration tomorrow. 
The GNLF has obtained permission from the local police station to hold the meeting but such a nod hasn’t been granted to the Morcha. 
“We do not need permission from the police as we are not using microphone,” said a Morcha leader from Mirik, Phubi Rai. 
The police, however, said their permission was a must even to organise rallies without microphones. 
“The permission for the use of mike is given by the SDO. But if a rally has to be organised without mike, permission from a senior police officer who is of a DSP rank is needed,” said an officer. 
The superintendent of police of Darjeeling, Anand Kumar, said: “Garidhura and Mirik look sensitive at the moment. We are moving forces from other parts of the district to the two places.”
GNLF to renew Sixth Schedule campaign 
SNS, DARJEELING, 4 APRIL: The once preponderant party of the Darjeeling Hills, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, is set to observe its foundation day tomorrow across the Hills and the party activists are likely to launch renewed campaign in support of including the Hills within the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. 
However, inter-party clashes cannot be ruled out as, according to Subash Ghising’s followers, the GJMM activists are tearing off the GNLF flags in order to intimidate them. “Our party flags have been torn off at several places and we are sure the GJMM activists are doing this to intimidate us. 
Such incidents have happened at Rock Garden and Dali in Darjeeling but we are determined to go ahead with the foundation day programme at any cost,” said a GNLF activist Mr Basant Subba. He said the party chief, Subash Ghising, has asked them to carry on with the programme regardless of everything.
“We know the GJMM would pull all stops to obstruct it. But we are prepared to take the challenge head on,” he said. Another party activist said the thrust of the foundation day programme would remain trained on reaching out to the people with the message that the inclusion of the Hills in the Sixth Schedule is the only option left with the GTA setup floundering. 
“We are invincibly opposed to the GTA, as it is a mockery of the Constitution-guaranteed power enshrined in the Sixth Schedule,” he said. When asked to comment on the GNLF allegation that the GJMM cadres are tearing off GNLF flags, the GJMM general secretary Binay Tamang said his party was least interested in the GNLF. 
“The common people have decisively rejected the party and its Sixth Schedule panacea,” he said. 
GJMM-GNLF face-off likely today 
SNS:Tension is likely at Gaaridhura tomorrow as the GJMM and the GNLF are both going to hold programmes in the town. 
The supporters of the GNLF are going to observe their party's foundation day tomorrow. The GJMM, after failing to obtain police permission to hold its proposed youth meeting at Gaaridhura, is organising a five-day puja there, instead.

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