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7 Jul 2017

TMC finger at police ... accused of failing to protect its leaders and cadres

TT, Siliguri, July 6: The hill unit of Trinamul today accused police and the local administration of failing to protect its leaders and cadres from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, leading to a large number of resignations from the ruling party in the past few days.
With the launch of the fresh round of the Gorkhaland movement in June, a large number of Trinamul members' houses were ransacked or burnt down in the hills.
Around 150 Trinamul activists have fled the hills and taken refuge in Siliguri. They are accommodated at a community building here.
Trinamul received a major jolt yesterday when the working president of its hill unit, N.B. Khawas, and vice-presidents, Parishma Giri and Mohan Lama, quit.
Trinamul's all three councillors at Kalimpong municipality had already defected to the Morcha.
Khawas said he had quit Trinamul "considering the aspirations of the hill people and in support of the mass movement".
Rajen Mukhia, the president of Darjeeling district (hill) Trinamul, today said: "It is true that after the Morcha resumed the Gorkhaland movement and other hill parties joined it, a number of our leaders, elected councillors and workers have walked out of Trinamul. This is because they could no longer bear the constant intimidation and attacks orchestrated by the Morcha. The Morcha is using the agitation to weaken our support base in the hills."
He said the Darjeeling and Kalimpong district administrations and police were doing noting to ensure the security of Trinamul workers and leaders. "Houses of our workers and leaders are being torched and ransacked and yet, no steps are taken by police and administration against the attackers. It is obvious that a section of our leaders and workers has succumbed to the pressure and left the party," Mukhia said.
A Trinamul leader in Kurseong, who didn't want to be named, rued that no office-bearer of the party in the plains had come uphill to boost the morale of the cadres.
"Our leaders in the plains are staying away from the hills. If they come uphill and meet Trinamul workers, it would be a morale boost for them. We cannot take up any political activity because our supporters fear they will have consequences if they attend programmes under Trinamul's banner. We have no option other than to wait for restoration of normality," he said.
On the other hand, the leader pointed out, such "silence" on the part of Trinamul leaders in the plains could further wither away the support base.
"We must admit that unless we raise our voice and stand by our workers, there will be more resignations from Trinamul. How long will a common worker sit back and bear the torture?" he asked.
Trinamul insiders said all six councillors of the party at Mirik municipality - the first civic body to be grabbed by a party outside the hills - were under immense pressure to leave the party.
However, another hill Trinamul leader who didn't want to be named, said once the agitation subsided, those who had quit the party would return.
"It is a matter of time. We believe people across the hills support Mamata Banerjee and our agenda of development," he added.

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