West Bengal: Logjam continues over Gorkhaland

Darjeeling, Aug 23 : The logjam in Darjeeling hills is heading for straight 4th week now over demand of a separate state and against the division of West Bengal affecting life of a million people.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gururng, who is heading the agitation since July 29, is still sticking to his decision not to negotiate with the state government after chief minister Mamata Banerjee ruled out the division of state.

Gurung reiterated on Friday that they would talk only with the Central government.

But a six-member GJM delegation led by party general secretary Roshan Giri after camping two weeks in New Delhi in the first week failed to get an appointment with either UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi or her son Rahul Gandhi, the Congress vice president.

Lately Gurung agreed to talk with the West Bengal Governor in an effort to break the
deadlock if invited.

But Governor MK Narayanan clarified that he was willing to talk if someone approached him.

But that option is gradually fading as no come forward to break the trail.

Meanwhile, Gurung denied any "wrongdoing" by his party activists while spearheading the statehood movement for Darjeeling and told his jailed supporters to go for indefinite hunger strike.

He told a massive gathering at Chowkbazar that the ongoing agitation "Ghar Bahira Janata" - people out in the streets - to be intensified and extended further until and unless all the arrested supporters were released.

The Gorkha supremo intensified the agitation since Thursday after party's assistant secretary and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) executive Binay Tamang, along with Dooars leader Satish Pokhrel, was arrested from the Bengal-Sikkim border.

The two were remanded to 14 days judicial custody.

Gurung said so far 721 supporters, who have been arrested since August 3, would
go hunger strike for indefinite period if they are not released.

Official sources, however, said many of the arrested people have been released by the courts.

"The GJM supporters will continue to exercise their freedom of expression, speech and their right to assemble peacefully without arms to press for their demand for Gorkhaland with the 'Ghar Bhaira Janta' program. There will be no force, intimidation or coercion of any sort," Gurung said.

He also denied reports in a section of media that the GJM were using force to clamp down life in the hills.

"This comes in the contrary to the reports in a section of the media that suggest otherwise."

Meanwhile, everything has been shut since Thursday in the hills.

The security forces beefed up patrolling in all vital installations and highly sensitive areas. The vigil in the porous borders was also intensified.

Gurung maintained that the government must respect the hill people's sentiment and understand that the demand of Gorkhaland is an aspiration of the entire Gorkha community.

"The demand is more than 100 years old and it is wrong to think that by arresting 721 Morcha leaders that people aspirations for Gorkhaland will be wiped out," he said.

He said: "Sentiment of the hill people is not a law and order problem but a political problem."

--IBNS (Posted on 23-08-2013)

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