Gorkhaland: Indefinite strike in Darjeeling to demand separate state

Darjeeling: Normal life was disrupted in the Darjeeling Hills on Saturday due to an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to press for the demand for a separate Gorkhaland on the lines of Telangana.

All shops, markets, schools, colleges, government and private offices, banks, post offices remained closed in the towns in Darjeeling hills and vehicles remained off the roads.

There was no report of any fresh violence since the beginning of the strike at 6 am as one battalion of CRPF was posted in various parts of the town.Women CRPF personnel were also deployed.

GJM workers were seen checking all vehicles that plied with emergency signs pasted on them.

The sources said normal work was, however, on at tea and cinchona gardens in the Darjeeling Hills.

Meanwhile, the six-member GJM team that is in Delhi contacted several MPs and apprised them of the Gorkhaland statehood demand, which has gained momentum since the UPA’s nod to the creation of Telangana. They also tried to meet AICC general secretaryAmbika Soni, party sources said.

Meanwhile, GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress for the death of the party’s trade union leader Saroj Tamang on Friday.

“TMC wants to tarnish GJM’s image in the Darjeeling Hills,” he said. Tamang’s body had been found on a road, 8 kms from Darjeeling town, on Friday.

TMC leader in Darjeeling, Rajen Mukhia, said the party never wanted violence in the hills. “We are peaceful,” he maintained.

Darjeeling superintendent of police Kunal Agarwal said one person was arrested for his alleged involvement in the Pokhriabong fire incident in which a police outpost was set on fire and a homeguard injured on Thursday, taking the total number of those arrested in the Hills to six.

With the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) renewing the demand for Gorkhaland in Darjeeling following the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) unanimously endorsing creation of a separate Telangana state, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday ruled out division of West Bengal and blamed the Congress for the agitation in the hills.

“Darjeeling is part and parcel of West Bengal. There is no question of division of West Bengal. We are united, we will be united and we will be together,” Banerjee told a press conference here.

Apparently referring to the recent visit by a six member GJM team headed by its general secretary Roshan Giri to Delhi with the Gorkhaland demand, Banerjee alleged “I am sorry to say … I will write to the Prime Minister whether it was a right step or not that some central ministers invited three or four Morcha leaders to Delhi some days back.”

“A meeting was also held with them. They have reported back that some central leaders have advised them to revive their movement in Darjeeling hills. There was also an assurance of according autonomy to them,” Banerjee said.

“A Union territory without taking consent of the state? It is funny. Is it a lollipop in a child’s hand?,” Banerjee said. Stating that peace had been prevailing in Darjeeling and would continue, she said “I request the centre that has responsibility to see that peace is not disturbed in Darjeeling.”