A strike in Darjeeling by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has affected daily life. (PTI photo)
A week into the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha bandh in Darjeeling
, residents have been hit by another shut-down: the internet. From Sunday, no one has been able to use social media
, and that has hit the Morcha's communications on the Gorkhaland agitation. But activists say, internet or no internet, the outrage over the death of three men in clashes with the police was spreading.
What's more, ordinary people who participated in the funeral march of the three men on Sunday said the Gorkhaland demand was no longer the domain of political parties only.
"It is now a people's movement. We want to tell political parties, if they can't get Gorkhaland, we will. We have had enough. Many died in the 1980s. Now three more. Enough is enough," said a class 12 student who marched with the coffins on Sunday afternoon through Darjeeling.
Vivek Gurung, a local businessman, said, "I am not a member of the Morcha but I am here protesting because Gorkhaland is not a matter of identity alone. It is about how the hill people have been exploited for years. It has to stop."
On Tuesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee left Kolkata for the Netherlands
on an official visit. At the airport, she called for calm in the hills and warned people there against playing with fire.
But many in Darjeeling feel she owes the people there an apology. Among them, Ms Rinchu, editor of Darjeeling Chronicle Portal who said, "An apology is required from West Bengal government. Three lives have been lost, three Gorkha lives. The chief minister must apologise."
Mamata Banerjee has called an all-party meeting on June 22, which, in her absence, will be headed by senior ministers Partha Chatterjee and Aroop Biswas. Morcha has said it will not attend the meet.
In fact, the Gorkhaland snowball is getting bigger
. The president of Trinamool's Sikkim unit resigned to protest the alleged police firing that killed three on Saturday. And the state's ruling party, the Sikkim Democratic Front, has reiterated its support for a separate state in Darjeeling.