‘People Would Have Killed Ghising. I Stopped Them’

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GJM Chief  Bimal Gurung tells Shobhita Naithani that as the ‘baap’ (father), he needs to discipline Darjeeling’s people

Bimal Gurung Why did you ask that the vehicle number plates in Darjeeling district be changed? Isn’t that illegal?
It was a non-cooperation movement to stop tax being paid to the West Bengal (WB) government.

What did you ban liquor and force people to wear ethnic attire?
So much of revenue is being absorbed from here. We have stopped liquor coming in from Sikkim. Now we are doing the same to the WB government. As far as the ethnic clothes are concerned, I want to show the people that we are different from Bengal.

Why force people?
In a revolution you have to lose a little to win something. The banning of mobile phones and bikes in schools and colleges is to discipline children. There are so many accidents; riding a bike has become fashionable. Children who don’t own bikes tell their parents to buy them one. Also, you can’t differentiate between a teacher and a student if they are all on bikes.

Why are you trying to control it? It happens everywhere.
This is our internal matter. I have to look after the goings-on in my house.

Why are you running a party as if it’s your family matter?
It will have to be run that way otherwise Darjeeling will have no disciplined. As a baap (father) I have to do it.

Is this not moral policing?
No. I am only requesting them.

The electricity is generated from our area. They cannot cut it, but we can. We don’t need an ac, fridge or fan

The three hill subdivisions haven’t paid the electricity bill for the last 25 months. If the government hasn’t cut electricity, then is it concerned about the revenue coming from liquor?
The electricity is generated from our area. They cannot cut it, but we can. We don’t need an air-conditioner, a fridge or a fan.

How different are you from Subhash Ghising? He issued diktats and so do you.
Unlike him, I am a grassroots leader. I want to serve. I oppose violence, whereas Ghising was violent.

But Ghising and his supporters were attacked by GJM members.
People did it out of aavesh (in a fit of anger). We haven’t attacked or killed anyone. We did no politics. People paid him back for his oppression of all these years

Why didn’t you stop them?
They did it out of aavesh. They would have killed him (Ghising). I stopped them.

In 2008, you said you will achieve Gorkhaland by 2010.
It will take some more time.

How much time?
I can’t give a time-frame. We will have to suffer more.

What if the government ignores the demand?
For how long? This is a border area; a chicken’s neck. The China border is not very far from here. They [government] have to fulfill our demand and block the chicken’s neck otherwise it will make for an easy pass for terrorists.

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