On a damp monsoon afternoon in July, a clutch of children were playing cricket in a lane in a residential area in Siliguri. Usually fond of football, which is more popular in the Darjeeling hills from where they had come, they had just discovered the joys of gully cricket – one of the ways in which they were adjusting to their new lives in the North Bengal plains.
It has been more than a month now that these children moved here with their families as political refugees. They live in a community hall in the town. Their homes in the hills have been either razed to the ground or badly damaged. Their fault: their parents are supporters or leaders of Trinamool Congress, the ruling party in the state, not the right party to belong to in the Darjeeling hills in the current atmosphere. Since June 8, the hills have been reeling under a general strike in support of the demand for a separate state with sporadic violence claiming eight lives.
“Our supporters in the hills have been threatened and intimidated by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha,” said Goutam Deb, senior Trinamool Congress leader and state minister for tourism.
Read the full story on political refugees from the hills, published in Scroll.in, here.