West Bengal: Gorkhas call for non-cooperation

Dajeeling, Aug 19 : Darjeeling hills of West Bengal on Monday wore a deserted look as the people are responding to a "Gharer Bhitore Janata" movement, sponsored by newly floated Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) pressing for separate statehood for Gorkhas - Gorkhaland.

Meanwhile, crackdown continued with new arrest of 40 activists, including Gokhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member Prabha Chettri, who is also an important Gorkha Janmukti Morcha functionary.

Special IG, Jalpaiguri, Javed Shamin, who is also holding the additional charge of Darjeeling range, said Chettri has been arrested on four cases.

He said so far 600 activists have been arrested since Aug 3.

While life in three hill sub-divisions came to a total standstill, people in the plains did not respond to a 24-hour Bengal bandh for the day called by the Bangla and Bangla Bhasha Bachao Committee (BBBBC).

The BBBBC is against the division of the state and demanding scrapping of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Act signed two years ago.

GJAC chairperson Enos Das Pradhan on Monday said: "We have appealed to the people to be 'Gharer Baire' from Aug 20 onwards and appealed to the traders and transporters to join the rally for statehood movement."

He said they would launch "non-cooperation" with the government agencies from Tuesday onwards.

He said " Our movement is peaceful and Satyagraha and we do not want any confrontation with the government agencies."

After four days' normal life from the Independence Day (Aug 15), Darjeeling hills returned to a nearly ghost town with people remaining indoors from early morning responding to a 24-hour "Gharer Bhitore Janata".

The GJAC, however, reduced the timing of the agitation to one day from earlier five days upto Aug 23.

From Aug 20 onwards, the GJAC would spearhead street marches, rallies and processions for statehood demand, GJAC convener and GJM leader Raju Pradhan said.

Darjeeling hills plunged into an uncertainty since July 29 with the UPA government conceding creation of Telangana by dividing Andhra Pradesh.

In past twenty-two days since July 29, Darjeeling witnessed 16 days total strike. More than 500 people have been rounded up. Tourism and tea industry, the main cash earning activities totally dwindled. As many as 15 companies of para-military forces have been deloyed.

The GJAC, which has been delegated power to call agitational programs henceforth, also threatened to create economic blockade like stopping transportation of timber and tea.

GJAC chairman Enos Das Pradhan said they would not allow timber and tea to go out.

--IBNS (Posted on 19-08-2013)

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