The hill town of Darjeeling bears a deserted look. Tourists hurry to leave as the latest confrontation between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government takes an ugly turn.
The GJM protests, that started off as opposition to Banerjee’s ‘imposition of Bengali’ in all schools in West Bengal, has morphed into reinvigorated demands for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
And even as GJM chief Bimal Gurung continues to demand that all government offices in Darjeeling stay shut in protest, CM Mamata Banerjee has warned government employees that they will lose their salaries if they do not report for work.
Last month, CM Banerjee had announced a decision to make studying the Bengali language compulsory in all schools in the state from classes 1 to 10.
As Darjeeling remains in the grip of conflict – with statehood-demanding Gorkhas of GJM on one side, and an adamant Mamata administration on the other – both tourists and locals wonder which way the deadlock will end.
Going by the torched vehicles and the vandalised offices, “soon” seems to be an unlikely answer.
Music: Big Bang Fuzz