Unrest in hills

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, July 30: The ripples were felt in Darjeeling less than an hour after the Telangana announcement was made in Delhi this evening.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung resigned from the helm of the autonomous council whose formation brought peace to the hills, announced an indefinite strike from Saturday and offered a two-day window for school boarders and tourists to leave. The Morcha has been saying it will be left with little option but to revive the Gorkhaland statehood movement the moment Telangana is announced.

The Morcha’s central committee will meet in Darjeeling at 11am tomorrow to chart the future course. A source said the Morcha might send a delegation to Delhi.

A three-day shutdown till Thursday dawn is already in force in the hills. On Thursday and Friday, shops will open and vehicles will run but government offices will be shut, Gurung said. From Saturday, the strike will resume.

“We have been saddened by the (CWC) decision to not discuss Gorkhaland and, therefore, I am resigning as the chief executive of the GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration) with effect from 8pm today. The letter has been faxed to the governor of West Bengal,” Gurung said.

The letter states that Gurung has resigned to demand the creation of a Gorkhaland state and to protest the continuous interference of the state government in the functioning of the GTA.

Gurung said the two-day breather was put in place as “we do not want to inconvenience the students”. Tourists are not numerous in the hills now — the season begins mid-September. But the hills have 45 residential schools with boarders totalling between 20,000 and 22,000.

A principal said a two-day window was not enough. “We need the parents’ consent. Then there is the issue of getting reservations,” he said. “Some are students who are in Class I.”

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