Morcha leader attacked, flees tribal area

By Shyamal Sarkar

The Dooars and the Terai in Darjeeling are sitting on a powder keg. With the Morcha desperate to get a toe hold in the region even as Adivasis oppose them, violence is the order of the day. The area could be engulfed in a serious ethnic strife.

THERE ARE no signs of a let up in violence in the plains of the Darjeeling district ever since the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha went on the offensive to give a leg up to its movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland in the Dooars and Terai region. The district administration is having a harrowing time keeping the warring Nepali speaking people and the plains tribals apart. The Adivasis who are against the Dooars and Terai being included in the proposed map of Gorkhaland have been persistently opposing Morcha activists and supporters from gaining a toe hold in the region amidst sporadic clashes.

Things are at a flash point and a major ethnic strife can engulf the region in a flash.

There was fresh violence in volatile Dooars on late on Monday evening when Morcha leader and secretary, Roshan Giri had to face the heat and flee from a place called Ethelbari. Media reports suggest that a section of Adivasis went on the rampage late in the day and set the homes of some Nepali speaking people on fire in the Dayna tea estate in Nagrakata.

Trouble followed when Roshan Giri went to the home of a Morcha activist Akbar Lama who died in a clash between the two sides on Saturday. The weekend violence claimed two lives one from each side.

As soon as Giri arrived in Ethelbari hundreds of tribals swarmed over the place to stop the Morcha leader and those accompanying him. Stones and brickbats were hurled at Giri's car. The Morcha leaders took refuge in a bustee populated by Nepalese people but had to flee from there too with the mob in hot pursuit through a number of tea gardens dotting the area. They returned to Gorubathan where Morcha activists are camping, are on hunger strike and waiting to hold rallies once they get permission.

Prohibitory orders are in force in the area and the police had forbidden Giri and his companions to enter the area where there was a clash on Saturday. But the Morcha leaders paid no heed.

The Adivasi leaders have let it be known that they are willing to talk to the Morcha leaders in the presence of government officials so that the situation can be brought back to normal in the troubled region.