KOLKATA: A few days after the names of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung and party general secretary Roshan Giri were struck off the electoral list, posters in Hindi, English and Nepali protesting the move were seen pasted at several junctions in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Bijanbari, Sukna and Siliguri of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal on Monday.
Signed by 'Janata' or public, the hand-written posters claimed that after the removal of names of 'locals' Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri, common Gorkhas will next be targeted by the state government and demanded answers from the state administration and the Centre.
"Modi government and Bengal administration has to answer under which law were the names of indigenous sons of soil removed from the electoral list?," a poster read.
"Gorkhas have contributed a lot for Bharat Mata. It's time for the country to give Gorkhaland," another poster read. "Yesterday it was Bimal and Roshan, will common Gorkhas be on the list of people removed from electoral list tomorrow?," another poster read.
Bimal Gurung had issued a statement urging common Gorkhas to protest the move and stated that the common people will be targeted next. "The stark resemblance of the posters with Bimal Gurung's rhetoric that common Gorkhas will be targeted next raises suspicion that the posters might have been posted by Gurung loyalists.
However, police are investigating who put up the posters," a senior police official said. Political observers in the hills believe that the posters may be an attempt of supporters of the Bimal Gurung faction of GJM to harp up support among the hill residents through sympathy after the removal of Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri's names from the electoral list.
The posters gain significance as similar posters had come up in different parts of the hills in May last year against the state government's decision to make Bengali compulsory in the schools. Political observers believe that many such posters shaped the discourse for the 105-day agitation that started in June last year and these fresh pro-Gurung posters may be indicative of another incoming agitation.
"Posters are very important for influencing the public in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. People read and ponder over the messages of the posters. Though Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa faction of GJM is ruling the roost with support of the state administration, they are not very popular among the people of the hills. Bimal Gurung may seize this opportunity over removal of his name from electoral list for another agitation but a large section of people are disillusioned by the shutdowns after the perceived unfruitfulness of last year's 105-day agitation. So, Bimal Gurung just can't motivate people to hit the streets by sitting in an unknown location given the fact that Tamang-Thapa faction is much more powerful now than the Gurung faction as they have the state machinery by their side," a political observer said.
"Now, if Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri come out of hiding and surrender, they would be tried and jailed by the state government. But, if they don't come out, they might slowly be pushed into irrelevance by the state government through its choices of pro-state administration Gorkha leaders," he added.