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18 Jun 2017

‘Will Gorkhaland solve Hills problems?’

Priyanka Dasgupta | TNN | Jun 18, 2017, KOLKATA: If his songs and movies are anything to go by, Darjeeling had long ago found in him an unofficial brand ambassador. Yet, the recent turmoil in the Hills has left Anjan Dutt upset. While lauding the effort of chief minister Mamata Banerjee to restore peace, the singer-turned-actor/director said the issue of Gorkhaland can't be solved through bandhs.
Dutt said, "This agitation has been going on from 1984. The Hill Council was created. But it didn't do much to improve the situation."
His biggest worry is that the tension in the Hills isn't helping the cause of anyone. Darjeeling, he said, was once a place for high-end tourists. Today, it's no longer there. It has become a hub of "low-end tourists and backpackers". "It was once the place for the best schools of India. That also is no longer the case. Tea and timber industries are also seeing a slump. What had worsened the situation was the absence of governance. I believe that governance has to be there for normalcy to return," he said.
He welcomed the fact that the chief minister had personally gone down to Darjeeling, alighted from her car and asked people to keep their shops open. "I have never seen any head of state doing that. I welcome her move. The agitators are getting used. There was a court order against bandhs. What happened to that?" he asked. Refusing to support violence, he said, "Majority of the educated and thinking people of the Hills aren't keen on bandhs. The problem is that Darjeeling doesn't even have a civil society that can voice their opinions."
What is also bothering him is the way the ethnic issue is being handled now. While recounting the cosmopolitan history of Darjeeling, he said, "Darjeeling was made by the British. The tea gardens were owned by them. It's not that I don't understand the sentiments of the agitators. I had myself written about that in TOI. But I don't like their adamant behaviour now and don't understand why the racial twist is being given to the whole issue. In today's world, it doesn't matter who speaks what language. People will speak the language they want. We can't force anything on to anyone."
"Hypothetically speaking, even if Gorkhaland is carved out, will it solve the problems of the Hills? Will high-end tourists return to Darjeeling? Some development needs to be done there. Economy has to develop. I absolutely detest the fact that once the agitation started, tourists were asked to leave," he said.
(Source & Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/will-gorkhaland-solve-hills-problems/articleshow/59197680.cms )

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