GJM launches do-or-die stir

FPMamata with Gurung’s letter.

In the wake of the UPA giving nod to the formation of Telangana state, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Wednesday announced an indefinite strike, beginning Saturday, in the hills of Darjeeling in West Bengal as part of the outfit's decision to launch a do-or-die agitation for the separate Gorkhaland state.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung announced this after the party's core committee meeting in Darjeeling on the last day of the three-day bandh called by the outfit. On Tuesday evening, Gurung had quit as the chief of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) — the administrative council set up in the hills following a tripartite agreement last year.

Meanwhile in Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accepted Gurung's resignation, but ruled out GTA's dissolution. She also ruled out the division of the state saying "Darjeeling is part and parcel of West Bengal". Accusing the UPA of fomenting trouble in the hills, she slammed it for floating the idea of granting Union Territory status to Darjeeling. "Granting UT status without taking consent of the state? It is funny. Is it a lollipop in a child's hand?" she said.

In Darjeeling, the GJM has exempted tea gardens from the indefinite bandh, but asked tourists and students of boarding schools to leave the hills within two days. "The students and tourists are requested to stay away from Darjeeling for two months. It is going to be a complete shutdown," said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.

The party termed its decision as harsh, but added that it was "something inevitable". "Darjeeling is famous for certain 'T's' — teaching and tourism. We care for the children staying in the hostels, and don't want them to starve during the bandh," the party said.

The GJM also hit out at the state government for not being genuinely concerned about the region. "For West Bengal, Darjeeling is simply a "crown" that can be talked about. Does the government really care about it? We have seen this attitude of previous governments and the present one is no less. All these years, we have been made pawns," the party said in a statement.

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