At Pussimbing tea estate in the Darjeeling Hills, any talk of the Lok Sabha election is unwelcome. “Sorry, please don’t ask us anything about politics,” said a man in his twenties.
Another asked: “Is there any democracy here? We say something to you today and tomorrow they may come to arrest us.”
The immediate provocation for the disquiet was the arrest of JB Tamang, the working president of the Himalayan Plantation Workers’ Union, who lives in this tea estate. He was arrested on March 22 in a case related to a protest of tea garden workers in August. He was released on bail a week later.
The arrest had come days after the Gorkha National Liberation Front, a regional political party to which the union was affiliated, broke its alliance with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which is ruling West Bengal.