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7 Jun 2017

Mamata denies Morcha toehold to strike

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 6: Mamata Banerjee's tactical move not to confront the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha after a hard hitting speech in Mirik has helped maintain peace in the hills to the advantage of the Trinamul Congress.

The Morcha was allowed to bring out a march in Darjeeling today with black flags even though no permission had been granted to the party for the same. Police did not even attempt to stop the procession that started from Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and winded through the town to reach Chowk Bazar. 
In Mirik, Mamata had gone hammer and tongs at the Morcha leadership yesterday, right from announcing her intent to conduct a special audit on the GTA to raking up the Madan Tamang murder case.
A swelling sentiment against the perceived imposition of Bengali on the hills was blunted to some extent by Mamata's Mirik speech in which she said the language would not be made compulsory in the hills and certain areas of the Dooars and the Terai.
The Morcha went ahead with the procession today on the language issue despite the chief minister's clarification.
Today's decision not to take action against the black flag protesters meant that the Morcha could not play the victim card even though the party was planning to turn the language agitation into a statehood movement.
The Morcha had already warned that police "excesses" during the processions would be met with a call for a strike. Such a move would have put Trinamul and the state government in an awkward situation given the high pitched sentiment in play in the hills at the moment.
Morcha supporters burn the effigy of Mamata in Darjeeling; (below) the chief minister
 interacts with local people in Darjeeling on Tuesday. Pic:Passang Yolmo
Another rally with participants wearing traditional clothes will be organised from near Darjeeling Government College to Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan here tomorrow. "From around 6.30pm tomorrow, our youths and women wing will bring out a torch rally in town," said Tilak Chand Roka, central committee member of the Morcha.
The Morcha leadership stressed that the language movement would continue. D. K. Pradhan,president, Morcha's Darjeeling sub-divisional committee, while addressing the rally said: "There is history of Bengal government trying to impose their language. It is somewhat of an ethnic suppression but we will not be defeated. If we do not protest today our future will not forgive us."
Roka added that this movement should not stop till Gorkhaland is achieved.
Even though the Morcha is planning to channelize the discontent into a bigger movement, observers believe that state government has managed to control the situation as of now by remaining quiet today.Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul (hills), said: "When the chief minister has categorically clarified that no language is being imposed on the hills, what is the logic in carrying on with an agitation. They are only trying to confuse the common people."
While Morcha supporters came out in the town with black flags today, the chief minister took a stroll towards Singamari, where the Morcha's office is located. She was seen exchanging greetings with local people and tourists alike.
In the evening, she took a walk around the Mall before heading to Richmond Hill.

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