Hundreds of artistes turned up on the streets of Darjeeling on Sunday to carry out what has been the most colourful rally in the agitation-hit town so far. Decked in traditional Nepali clothes, the artistes walked across Darjeeling town, singing songs in Nepali.
“Shoshan Shoshan Shah deyno, shasan aafay gernecho (We have tolerated the oppression for too long, we will rule ourselves now) and “Jagum hamro itihas ko baato magum, Gorkhaland ko kasam (Wake up, the land that our history talks about is the one we want)” were among the lyrics sung during the rally.
The coordinator of the Sanjukta Kalakar Manch, 64-year-old Santosh Dewan, said: “Thousands of artistes are today showing solidarity with the Gorkhaland cause. We are protesting the police atrocities which have taken place. We want to clearly let the nation know that we are not anti-national, we are anti-state. We want separation from the state and an end to the kind of colonial rule that Bengal has had over us since the British handed us over to Bengal.”
He added that Nepali movie actors, singers, theater artists and musicians had turned up for the rally. Similar marches were taken out in Kalimpong. Meanwhile, 71-year-old Nepali music industry legend Kumar Subba on Sunday returned his ‘Sangeet Samman’ award, which he had received from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in 2012 at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata.
‘’I had been given this honour by the chief minister, and I had accepted with pride. I believe governments do what they can for people. But for us, it is more than just separation from the state. Everyone in the state and the country has an identity. Only we don’t. Hum log idhar se udhar bhatakte rehte hai (we keep wandering from one place to another). We need an identity, a land,” Subba, who has been a singer for around 40 years, said.
Meanwhile, at Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) headquarters, party chief Bimal Gurung told a select group of mediapersons that this was just the beginning, and that the agitations would now be intensified.
Gurung has kept a low profile over the past few weeks, and has refrained from making any statements or giving interviews. A GJM insider said that Gorkha leaders, who have kept low profiles across party lines, are now feeling the heat of delivering on their promise of Gorkhaland. At the last all-party meeting, thousands of Gorkhaland supporters had gathered outside the venue to put pressure on the leaders to not call off the indefinite strike. The next all-party meeting is slotted for July 18.
Meanwhile, the ban on Internet services, which was imposed on June 18, has been extended till July 25, by the district administration, PTI reported. With food supply severely hit, PTI said GJM activists and some NGOs were seen distributing food items among the people.
The Army was deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada and police and security forces were patrolling the streets of the hills, according to PTI.