Gorkhaland cry revived

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, July 28: The Gorkhaland movement has virtually been revived with the dominant force in Darjeeling writing to the Prime Minister that statehood is the only option and an autonomous alternative has been a failure.

The letter was sent by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the eve of a three-day strike triggered by an assumption that the Congress has decided to support the creation of a Telangana state.

The Morcha had put the Gorkhaland demand on the backburner on the condition that the status quo would not be disturbed. However, if Andhra is bifurcated, it will rob the Morcha of any reason for not demanding a similar step in Bengal.

Although the Congress has not yet publicly endorsed Telangana, the party’s working committee is expected to kickstart the process soon by asking the UPA government to carve out a new state in the south.

In Darjeeling, the three-day general strike will begin at 6am on Monday and last till Thursday 6am. NH31A, the lifeline to Sikkim, will be kept out of the shutdown.

A Morcha leader said: “The letter sent today is just the start of the agitation. We want to remind the Centre constantly of our demand. After the general strike, other modes of agitation, continuous rallies, public meetings, relay and indefinite hunger strike are also being worked out.”

The source said Morcha president Bimal Gurung was considering a proposal to step down as the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the formation of which had helped the Mamata Banerjee government bring peace back to the hills two years ago.

The source added: “We have to act immediately and our options are closed. We cannot sit idle and see Telangana being formed.”

Morcha leader Roshan Giri said letters had been sent to Sonia Gandhi and the Union home minister also.

Giri contested the chief minister’s allegations that a political party was trying to foment trouble in the hills and that the GTA members were invited by the Centre recently.

“We had sought appointments to meet the Union home minister and other Congress leaders. We were not invited by them,” he said.

Kunal Aggarwal, superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said: “A DSP will be deputed only to look after the situation along the highway. Two helplines, 100 and 0354-2254203, will be operated. Any person facing any inconvenience can call up the number.”

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