Darjeeling: The Hills on Saturday entered the 101st day of indefinite strike that has paralysed life, crippled tourism and driven the famed Darjeeling tea industry to the brink. As the bandh in Darjeeling entered its 101st day on Saturday, peace and normalcy looked as far away as ever.
As the rest of the state gets ready to plunge into festivity, people in Darjeeling remain in mourning with the principal demand for a separate state still a pipe dream.
That question haunts everyone in the Hills. Even though some want the indefinite strike to end and normality to return, there is yet no compromise in sight that will give the people a symbolic victory for the struggle. There have, till now, been no starvation deaths in the Hills. But there is no denying the suffering.
The new bout of hopelessness began on Wednesday, when the Bengal government announced that it would reconstitute the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and appoint as its new leader Binoy Tamang, a former member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha who was expelled for opposing the bandh.
The agitation for the establishment of Gorkhaland has dragged on since June 8, after the state government said it would make Bengali a compulsory subject up to Class 10. The initial agreement that established the GTA was signed in 2011 by the Centre, the state and the GJM. Bimal Gurung, the president of the GJM, was appointed its first chief executive.
The sudden announcement of reconstitution of the GTA board came after two rounds of largely fruitless bilateral negotiations between the state government and the Hill parties, all of whom have insisted on tripartite talk.
But young men and women still insist they are ready for more hardships and will see it till the end. “We have sacrificed a lot for the greater cause. Having come this far, how can we give up now?” says a college graduate. Hopefully, peace and normalcy would be restored in Darjeeling During Durga puja.