Darjeeling tense as Gorkha movement heats up

Gorkhas know how to paint

The hillside roads of the Darjeeling region share an artistic vein: Demands for Gorkhaland. Signs are painted everywhere calling for the new Indian state for Gorkhas, Indians who are ethnically Nepali. Green and white flags — Gorkha colors — hang everywhere.

Now, the region is growing more tense by the hour, as a leader of one of the Gorkha factions was killed at a rally. Gorkha groups have been demanding their own cohesive state for years. They don’t want to simply be a part of the larger, Calcutta-dominated West Bengal.

They above and below photos were taken when I visited Darjeeling in January. I was conveniently there during one of the Gorkha movement’s regular, bandhs, or strikes, of area transportation and business, to press their cause to the state and central governments.

Of course, the movement has been relatively peaceful of late. Though the strike was annoying to tourists and businessmen, it appeared to mostly be just another holiday, and a chance for kids to play in the streets.

But news of the latest violence spread fast — mostly by mobile phone and word of mouth — throughout the region. I’m several hours away and I heard about it from colleagues at my school.

Just don't hit it into the valley just out of frame

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