Nabanna dharna against Tiger Hill project dispersed by force

12 Apr 2017

The protest against the state government constructing tourism infrastructure at Tiger Hill gained momentum with the Jan Andolan Party organising dharnas in Kolkata and in different parts of the Darjeeling hills today.
JAP leaders alleged the state government was being indifferent to the sentiments of the hill people by going ahead with the construction work at Tiger Hill, which reflected its suppressive attitude.
Twenty-four youth members of the JAP party, who were on dharna in front of Nabanna, were forcefully removed today by police personnel. JAP members were seen holding placards that read - “Save the queen’s crown…here to protect, not to protest…if natural resources go wrong nothing will go right… under the tagline SaveTigerHill”.
The protestors could not be contacted for comment, but senior JAP bureau member Amar Lama said, “Ours members were peacefully holding a dharna in front of Nabanna but the police forcefully removed them. I have been told that the police also resorted to mild lathicharge when our members went ahead with the dharna. We don’t see any reason why the police had to oppose a peaceful demonstration."
In Darjeeling, JAP members showed their protest by forming a human chain at Chowrasta, the popular promenade, while in other places of town a silent rally was organised.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has threatened to take legal course and approach the National Green Tribunal to stop the ongoing construction work. The effort is being supported by senior citizens and various social organisations and NGOs.
The state government’s Tiger Hill project, being implemented at a cost of Rs.40 crore, will have four cottages, a 20 double bedded lodge and 20 bedded dormitory.
The GJM and JAP are opposing the project fearing it would have an adverse effect on the bio-diversity of Senchel Wildlife Sanctuary, where Tiger Hill is located. This aside, Tiger Hill is revered for the Senchel Dham (Durga temple) and is a catchment area to supply water to Darjeeling town.
“There is lot at stake if any huge construction such as the one being undertaken presently at Tiger Hill goes on. The state government should understand the sentiments of the people and not be adamant. Also, we are not sure if experts were taken onboard before implementing the project. It is an oppressive attitude of the state government,” said Nayan Prakash Pradhan, the JAP general secretary.
He refused to be drawn into any controversy when reminded of the GJM’s stand, saying, “It is good that many are protesting against the Tiger Hill project. Everyone is doing it in their own way. We will do it our way."
A Tiger Hill Bachao Committee has been formed comprising the GJM’s youth wing, local social organisations and NGOs to take forward the protest. (EOIC)