west-bengal-news

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha shutdown call cripples life in Darjeeling

Darjeeling (West Bengal), Sept.2 : Life came to a standstill in Darjeeling after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) forced a complete shutdown over their demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.


The GJM had intensified their agitation for the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland after the approval by the Congress party on the creation of a new Telangana state.

Bimal Gurung, GJM president, said, a seven member delegation of the autonomous region committee had gone to Delhi to press their demand for the separate state.

"Today, a forum comprising of lawmakers and legislatures have left to hold talks with the federal government. We will accordingly take the decision after the completion of the talks," said Gurung.

Earlier the government of West Bengal had asked the GJM to call off the strike failing which they would arrest it leaders.

However the regional party refused to budge from the position.

"Till the time they don't release those 100 leaders, whom they have arrested we will not engage in talks with them," said Gurung.

One immediate consequence is likely to be renewed demands from other parts of India for separate states, including in the Darjeeling hills and a further breakup of the most populous Uttar Pradesh state.

The decision to break up Andhra Pradesh and establish Telangana comes ahead of elections next year and critics say the ruling party is seeking to shore up its political fortunes after dragging its feet over the explosive issue for four decades.

Since independence in 1947, successive governments have dealt carefully with demands for new states - creating three in 2000 - while ensuring demands did not spiral enough to threaten the integrity of a nation that now has 1.2 billion people with hundreds of languages, ethnicities and castes.

India currently has 28 states while the United States with a population of 300 million has 50.

The Gorkhaland movement that began in 1980s had ended with a truce between the then Gorkha leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi, after he accepted limited autonomy in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

At least 1,200 people died in the first Gorkhaland campaign, but protests ended a few years later after Gorkha leaders accepted limited autonomy.

The Darjeeling hills region is geo-politically and strategically important for India as it lies close to the borders of China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous and elected hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor-the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM now runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration after sweeping its maiden elections held in July 2012.

--ANI (Posted on 02-09-2013)

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