Three days after the missing Darjeeling leader Bimal Gurung, who led a violent agitation for a separate state Gorkhaland, resurfaced in Kolkata, his rivals currently in control of the hill station held protest demonstrations on Sunday and warned that if his return meant a return to violence, people would not let him enter the hills.
Sunday's protest in Darjeeling was apparently in reaction to supporters of the Gorkha Jamukti Morcha Bimal Gurung (GJM-BG) faction put up their party flags in the hill town yesterday for the first time since he went underground in 2017. Some of the flags went up at Chowk Bazaar, a busy market place in the centre of the town.
Leaders of the youth front of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha loyal to Gurung's rival Benoy Tamang (GJM-BT) who organised Sunday's protests took down the Bimal Gurung party flags.
"We want peace in the hills. If Gurung's few remaining cadre in Darjeeling create trouble then the administration and the people will not let him enter the hills," said Alok Kantamani Thulung, Darjeeling Subdivision President GJM-BT, said.
He claimed some abusive posters had been put up in Kalimpong with threats of violence. "We want to give Bimal Gurung to rein in his cadres -- the few that are still there. We don't want the hills disturbed," he added.
The protest at Chowk Bazaar began at 11 am with hundreds of people shouting slogans for peace in the hills and a handful also raising slogans against Bimal Gurung.
"He is not returning to the hills with Gorkhaland as he had promised. He is only coming here for his own protection. He has a history of creating trouble. We don't want him here," several speakers at the Chowk Bazaar rally said.
In the three days after his dramatic return in the public space and his press meet where he declared that he would work with the Trinamool Congress to see Mamta Banerjee become Chief Minister of West Bengal for the third time in 2021, Bimal Gurung has kept a low profile apparently holed up in a top city hotel.
Bimal Gurung has several serious criminal cases against him including the charge of being involved in the murder of a policeman and charges of sedition under UAPA. There is even a lookout notice for him issued by the West Bengal administration in 2017 but there are no signs of an imminent arrest.
When Gurung surfaced on Thursday, Trinamool Congress tweeted that it welcomes Mr Gurung's commitment to peace and decision to withdraw support from the NDA and repose his confidence in the leadership of Mamta Banerjee.
But after that one tweet there has been no further communication in in the public domain from either Gurung or the Trinamool Congress.
We welcome Bimal Gurung's commitment to peace & decision to withdraw support from NDA while reposing faith in @MamataOfficial's leadership. BJP's attempts to use Gorkhaland issue for petty politics & their untrustworthy nature now lay fully exposed before people of Bengal. (1/2)- All India Trinamool Congress (@AITCofficial) October 21, 2020
Opposition parties BJP Congress and the left have raised questions about the so-called deal between the GJM-BG and Mamata Banerjee. Has Mamata Banerjee agreed to the formation of Gorkhaland, her political opponents have asked.
In his press meet on Thursday, Mr Gurung said he was committed to the idea of a separate state of Gorkhaland. He said he was quitting the NDA because it did not deliver on its promise for a separate state "Mamta Banerjee has always kept her commitments which is why I am supporting her for the 2021 elections," he said.