Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders meet Shinde over Gorkhaland

The Times Of India

DARJEELING: A day before their meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee on March 6, the three-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) delegation led by party president Bimal Gurung on Tuesday called on Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to put across the Gorkhaland demand and also complain against “rough and tough” chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s flouting the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement.

In the meeting, the GJM president raised the issue of granting tribal status to the entire Gorkha community of the Hills, barring schedule castes.

Roshan Giri, the party general secretary after the meeting with Shinde said over phone from Delhi,

“The home minister gave us a patient hearing and we told him about our demand for Gorkhaland state and the need to grant it in the wake of the Telengana issue,” party general secretary Roshan Giri told TOI over the phone from Delhi.

The GJM leader iterated the demand for granting tribal status to the entire Gorkha community. “A tribal status to the Gorkha community in the Hills will put to rest efforts to pit one section against the other,” he added.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had stirred up a hornet’s nest by announcing the formation of Lepcha Development Board (LDB) for the Lepcha community of the Hills, which is expected to be followed by a similar board for the Buddhist population. GJM however has demanded that welfare boards for various Hills communities be formed but under the ambit of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

Giri also brushed aside speculation of deployment of central forces in the Hills following the party’s agitation announcement. ”

We inquired with the union home minister about the proposal to deploy central forces.

The minister told us that there was no immediate need for deployment of central forces.”

Following GJM’s announcement of a renewed agitation for a separate state as a fall out with the Bengal government, Shinde had recently said that central forces would be deployed in areas of North Bengal that will go for the panchayat polls.

The home minister has requested the party president to call off their proposed agitation to maintain peace and stability and for over all development in the Hills region.

“We were requested to call off our agitation by the Union minister. We will give it a thought after holding a meeting with our central committee back in Darjeeling when we return. We also hope that President Mukherjee gives us positive assurances on which also lifting our agitation depends,” said Giri.

GJM has called two 48-hour strikes on March 14 and 15 and again on March 21 and 22. However, all government offices will be forced to be closed from March 9-27. However, keeping the Madhyamik examination in mind, GJM has postpones it series of public meetings this month in the Hills.

The GJM delegation also met railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Congress leader Deepa Munshi in Delhi and discussed about sanction of funds for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), extension of the railway line between Siliguri and Mirik and repairing the stretch of road in Kurseong that was destroyed by a landslide two years ago.

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