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27 Jul 2017

Morcha yields rally space ...GNLF organising 27 July programme

TT, Calcutta, July 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has allowed its one-time arch rival, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, to hold a meeting in the heart of Darjeeling town after nine years.
The meeting would be held tomorrow to observe Martyrs' Day in memory of those who lost their lives in the statehood movement in the 1980s. Since 2008, a year after the Morcha became a dominant force in the hills, the GNLF had been holding the July 27 meeting in the outskirts of Darjeeling.
"The Morcha is in power in the Darjeeling municipality, which gave permission to the GNLF to hold the meeting. Even a couple of months ago, they were arch rivals and the Morcha would have never allowed the GNLF to make its presence felt in the heart of Darjeeling town," said a political analyst.
GNLF spokesperson Niraj Zimba said: "For nine years, we observed the day on the fringes of Darjeeling town and in the foothills. Tomorrow, we will hold the meeting in Chowk Bazaar, where our party president Mann Ghisingh and other senior leaders would be present."
On July 27, 1986, 13 people had died in firing during a GNLF rally in Kalimpong. The firing happened when GNLF supporters were burning copies of the India-Nepal Friendship Treaty, 1950, claiming that Article 7 of the treaty did not distinguish between Nepal nationals and Nepali-speaking Indians.
The Morcha also holds a rally every year in memory of the 13 persons. This year, too, the party will hold its meeting barely 50 metres from the GNLF's venue.
Morcha leaders, however, said they would hold a low-key programme tomorrow.
"The last rites of our supporter Ashish Tamang, who died in police firing in Mirik, are yet to be done," a Morcha leader said.
Sources said the Morcha's decision to allow the GNLF to hold the rally in the heart of the town pointed to two reasons. 
First, both hill parties have joined hands to form a committee to spearhead the statehood movement. Political analysts said had the Morcha not allowed the GNLF to hold the rally, it would have substantiated claims of highhandedness by Bimal Gurung's party.
The constituents of the statehood committee, including the GNLF, have objected to some of the recent decisions taken by Gurung, calling them unilateral.
"Second, the confidence of the GNLF leaders to hold the meeting has been bolstered by the fact that around 60 per cent of Trinamul leaders, workers and supporters in the hills have joined the GNLF in the past one and a half months," an observer said.

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