Dr Mahendra P Lama public meeting at Bagha Jatin Park Siliguri

Former vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, Dr Mahendra P Lama, the independent candidate from the Darjeeling constituency for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, today conducted a public meeting at the Bagha Jatin Park in Siliguri.

Mahendra P Lama speaking at the public meeting in Bagha Jatin Park on Tuesday.
Mahendra P Lama speaking at the public meeting
in Bagha Jatin Park on Tuesday.

In a thinly veiled reference to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, he said some forces are sowing the seed of communal discord among the people of the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars and Terai regions.

“A wounded pigeon is flying to Darjeeling after every 15 days to spread narrow communal thinking among the people of the region,” Lama alluded. You can see the pigeon roaming about freely inside the Writers’ Buildings.”

He urged people to remain vigilant of the “wounded pigeon” as complacency would give it leeway to disrupt the age-old unity existing between various communities in the hills and the Terai.

Shedding light on the factors responsible for the socio-economic backwardness of the people of the region, the academician pointed out three key glitches: illiteracy; the tendency to neglect traditional wisdom; and lack of the will to dream big.

He noted Darjeeling was the first region in Asia to get an electricity producing plant. But now while the rest of Asia has made significant progress, Darjeeling is reeling under the shadows of socio-economic backwardness and illiteracy. Train services were introduced in Darjeeling way back in 1883, but the Darjeeling–Dooars train service has not undergone much development yet, observed Lama.

“The separate statehood demand does not focus on any one particular community or language. It is a regional demand and must be prioritised considering the vital issue of development of the local populace,” he stressed. The people of the region should elect a representative who will be capable and efficient enough to pursue their demand in Parliament and garner wide support for it, added Lama.

The academician took pains to emphasise that the statehood demand is not only to address the issue of the Gorkha community’s identity at the national level, but to bring forth the burning question of socio-economic development of the local populace.

Many non-Gorkha leaders were present at the public meeting today to justify Lama’s stand. Kamatapur Women’s Organisation president Alti Singh, erstwhile Naxal leader Sridhar Mukhopadhyay and Kamatapuri People’s Party district president Sanjay Sarkar were among those who shared the dais with Lama. They all echoed Lama by speaking in favour of a separate state comprising Darjeeling and the Dooars.


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