Siliguri, 05 Jul:

Will they, won’t they? A day before Thursday’s crucial all-party meeting of the pro-Gorkhaland parties, the question paramount in every common person of the Darjeeling hills is would the bandh be withdrawn.

Yes, Gorkhaland is close to their heart, but life must also go on. And so, the general feeling emanating out of the hills is let the movement continue, but withdraw the bandh. Swaying between hope and despair, all eyes are therefore riveted at Thursday’s meeting.

Wednesday’s indications, however, are ominous. Intermittent incidents of violence broke out in Kalimpong and Kurseong as part of the ongoing movement. Such actions are antithetic to a rollback of the clampdown enforced since June 8.

A lot has been happening in between. Despite being on the same side of the Gorkhaland cause, attrition is at work between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).

With interests clashing between the two principal political parties of the hills, their individual agenda is at times casting shadows on the future of a collective push and the all-party platform by extension. A collective think tank is the need of the hour to give sane heads a chance to prevail.

No bandh, whatever the cause may be, can continue eternally. It has to end sometime giving alternative methods a chance to succeed. The only alternative in the given situation is talks and very importantly without pre-conditions. With all sides rigidly towing their respective stands, talks, however, are nowhere in sight.

That is a faulty policy and will have to be looked into. A headstrong approach can only increase the misery of the people with frustration as the end result. A section of the all-party platform is realizing it and probably advising it too, but their voices are too feeble to be heeded.

Meanwhile, the hill bandh and pro-statehood stir are having counter effects in the plains areas of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts. Opposing the statehood demand, several groups have mushroomed in the interim holding rallies against “division of Bengal”. Worse still, transportation of provisions is being obstructed affecting adjacent Sikkim too in the process.

Not that such acts are causing any extra problem for the Darjeeling hills, as the hills are already under a lockdown with the bandh sponsors preventing movement of vehicles in the hills prohibiting replenishments thereby.

But, the mood reflected through such acts both in the hills and the plains is unhealthy for co-existence. All such acts do is increase acrimony, which needs to be avoided at all costs.

Thursday’s all-party meeting in the hills is therefore loaded with significance and responsibility. An outcome with the larger interest in view can go a long way in applying some salve to the festering situation.

And, what can be of larger interest than the interest of the people?