By A Newsman
Siliguri, 16 September: A group of school and college teachers today took out a silent rally at Kurseong demanding that educational institutes be spared from the on-going indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling, which has entered 95th day today.
This the first instance of the academic fraternity taking an open stand and taking to the street against the bandh that created a stifling atmosphere in the Hills. The move betrays the growing concern over educational losses due to the stifling bandh and is of immense courage given the tendency in Darjeeling Hills to silence dissenters through violence.
The rally started from near the Kurseong Tourist Lodge and after traversing through several narrow roads in the hill town, culminated at Kurseong Motor Stand. Teachers, who participated in the rally, were holding banners and posters that read “Gorkhaland is our Constitutional right and education is our fundamental right,” “School are temples of education,” etc.
Police provided a security cover at the front and rear of the rally on the apprehension that Bimal Gurung’s followers might attack the rally. Gurung is hell bent on continuing the shutdown until and unless a tripartite meet is convened to discuss the demand for Gorkhaland state.
Into hiding because of criminal cases slapped by the police, Gurung is releasing audio tapes almost every day asking his supporters to reinforce the bandh. After today’s development, his audio message, however, is yet to come out.
In a related development, police today took control of a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha office at Kalimpong where Gurung’s supporters had stockpiled huge numbers of glass bottles and stones to attack the cops. Police opened fire in the air during the raid today as Gurung’s supporters tried to resist the move.
A school bus and several police vehicles were vandalised at Kalimpong yesterday after Gurung asked his supporters to resort to picketing so that people do not defy the bandh. They had also clashed with police.
West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights today issued summon to Gurung asking him to appear at the Commission’s office in Kolkata on 10 October for the attack on the school bus by his followers. The Commission had issued several summons to Gurung in the past as well, but he paid no heed.