A 20-minute drive from the popular Glenary Café in Darjeeling City brings you to the epicenter of Gorkhaland Agitation 2 years ago. Now it lies abandoned.
The house of Bimal Gurung in Patlaybas was plundered shortly after he left Darjeeling and is now abandoned. Former President of undivided Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Gurung, was once the undisputed Gorkha leader in the mountains.
But that was two years ago.
Now the checkpoint at the entrance is broken, dry pinewood leaves and unkempt bushes signal that times have changed. Charred remains of two cars in front of the house stand as a reminder of the 2017 agitation. The looted rooms contain broken windows and furniture. One of the walls near the access road to the Gurung House has a poster supporting the BJP candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha headquarters, for which the election will be held on Thursday.
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In the two years since the excitement, the center of power has shifted in the hills. Binay Tamang, a former Advisor to Gurung, is now head of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and is known to be close to Mamata Banerjee, a member of the Trinamool Congress and chief.
"Nobody comes here now. Even local residents do not visit. It seems that the days of Bimal Gurung are over. The same condition prevails in the party office and community hall, which was later sealed by the police, "said Roshan Dorji, who lives in the city.
A majority of residents and neighbors of Gurung are tense with their lips.
I do not want to talk about gurung or politics No one will talk to you about these issues, said a man who passed the house.
"We know what to do on election day, he is not here, but that does not mean that people have left him, they just do not show it in the current situation, "said Prema Dorji, a local resident.
anger still reigns as Bimal seems to be giving up Gurung's absence. On the sidelines of the Trinamool Congress there is rage among the people involved in the movement toward statehood he stood. The memories of deaths allegedly due to police shootings and raids have not been erased. The BJP candidate and the followers of Gurung try to use this feeling. For Gurung it is important that the BJP wins Darjeeling and also forms the government of the center. Fleeing the police in Bengal, he needs the support of BJP to avoid arrest and fight a potentially protracted lawsuit.
A two-minute walk from Gurung's house brings you to his former party office and community center. Two years ago, the party bureau and community center would be filled with Gurung supporters and media representatives. Now both are sealed.
Approximately one kilometer away in Malidhura is Kanchanjunga Public School, which was known to be assisted by Gurung. The school and adjoining community center, where GJM held meetings in the past, now houses the Central Armed Forces staff who will fill the polling booths on Thursday. The three-story GJM party office in Singmari, one kilometer uphill from Patlaybas, has been confiscated by the state government and is currently home to police officers.
The riots of the police in the area had provoked violence during the Gorkhaland agitation, which later spread to other parts of the hills.
Gurung is currently fleeing when the West Bengal police beat him several times, including cases under the terms of the UAPA. After applying to the Supreme Court, Gurung filed a bail request with the Siliguri Circuit Bench.
Gurung & # 39; Meteoric Rise is often credited with his efforts to make Prashant Tamang, a 24-year-old Indian Idol cops reality show. In the same year he separated from his mentor Subhas Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation (GNLF), founded GJM and founded the Movement for Statehood.
After Mamata came to power in 2011, Mamata took over the GJM. On 18 July 2011, the Center, the State Government and GJM signed a tripartite contract and a GTA was formed. In 2012, the GJM won all 45 seats in the GTA, and Gurung became its CEO.
Then in 2017, Gurung resumed the agitation for Gorkhaland with a 104-day shutdown. Eleven people were killed in clashes with the police in the Hills. When the state police sued Gurung and his helpers, he fled the mountains. The Trinamool Congress was then in Binay Tamang, which formed its own faction of the GJM. In September 2017, Binay took over the position of GTA chief.
After Gurung and the GNLF decided to support the BJP candidate in the Lok Sabha polls and the Tamang-led GJM faction supporting the Trinamool Congress candidate, the duels are clearly drawn Hills
"Gurung is not here. Binay Tamang and his followers have influence. They are seen in campaigns for the candidate of the Trinamool Congress. However, it would be wrong to believe that Gurung's followers are not here. They are present, but they do not come out because they fear they will be identified and targeted. But they are here. Some of them were on rallies organized by BJP in the mountains, "said 60-year-old Ramesh Tamang while standing in the Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling.