DARJEELING, India, Jan.31, and Reuter: Two years of armed strife have brought death and destruction to the tea growing hills of Darjeeling and more troubles are seen ahead for what was once called the Queen of the Hill Stations.
The economy is in tatters and even in the unlikely event of a political settlement being reached at talks in Calcutta this week, some North Indian officials doubt that the leader of the Gurkhas will be able to hold the more militant of his people in check.
Gurkha leader Subhas Ghising and the West Bengal government are far from agreement on autonomy for the Nepali speaking Gurkhas, observers said.
More than 200 people have died and poverty worth 75 million dollars has been destroyed in an increasingly violent campaign by. The Gurkha National Liberation army for an autonomous region to be carved out of West Bengal in Northeast India.
West Bengal has offered to set up an autonomous elected Hill Council in Darjeeling, but a major sticking point is the area the proposed council would cover.
The last round of Central Government brokered talks were held in New Delhi last week and Home Minister But a Singh said on Saturday he hoped for a deal this week.
But Agreement could still leave the hill people far from sure of peace or prosperity.
When talks broke down in December Liberation Front fighters launched an orgy of destruction against government installations and attacks on security forces,
This prompted a crackdown and many activists went underground and resorted to guerrilla violence, although Ghising said: “We are simply giving an answer to what is being done to us”.
Ghising, an ex-soldier and now a novelist, said: “They shot at my sister, broke into my house and burnt all my literary manuscripts.
“My blood boils at this even though I abhor violence. What do you think the common man is feeling”.
“We have 40,000 ex-army men in the hills,’ he said recently. “They belonged to the cream of the country’s forces. If the State terrorizes them, do you think they will take this sitting down”.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 5, 1988