Travails of the new Darjeeling satrap

The shocking slaying of Madan Tamang, the main opposition leader of Darjeeling, in the centre of town on the morning of 21 May, plunged politics in the Hills to a new low, deepening the political crisis that has pummelled the area in recent years. The political leadership of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Gorkha People's Liberation Front, GJMM), until recently riding a popularity wave for challenging the aging satrap Subhash Ghisingh and the Kolkata politicians, is suddenly being reviled by the local populace. Most critically, the situation threatens the legitimacy of the ongoing tripartite talks in New Delhi regarding the Hills' political future.

Sixty-two-year-old Tamang was overseeing preparations for a public meeting to mark the foundation day of the All India Gorkha League (AIGL), a party that he headed, when a mob, believed to be made up of GJMM supporters, attacked him with khukuri knives. He was hacked to death in full view of office-goers, local residents and tourists – and a whole contingent of police expressly deployed to the spot to maintain order during the public meeting. The killing of the veteran leader stunned the Hills and sent shock waves through the Gorkha diaspora around the world, even leading some senior GJMM leaders to resign from the party. Most of these resignations were later taken back, however, indicative more of duress than desire.

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Himal Southasian