Trouble in the hills moved one step closer from the realm of speculation to a frightening reality with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung announcing a three-pronged agitation programme to mount pressure for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Gurung declared there would be bandh on four days next month – 14, 15, 21 and 22 – apart from a 19-day shutdown of all government offices between March 9 and 27.
The third element of the measure is a trip to different state capitals to meet the respective chief ministers to canvass support for Gorkhaland. Addressing a rally in Kalimpong town on Sunday, Gurung stated “From February 24, members of the GJM Central Committee, Gorkhaland Study Forum and frontal organisations along with the 3 Hill MLAs will embark to different states, meet the respective Chief Ministers to garner support for Gorkhaland”
Gurung’s announcement comes within 18 days of his cautioning the Mamata Banerjee administration that they would launch a movement that would not be democratic in nature. “Get ready for the government’s bullets as they would try to stop our agitation,” he had announced.
On Sunday, Gurung proved his rhetoric was not an empty threat, declaring a return to the series of bandhs that are notorious in the politics of the hills. Along with Gurung has also decided to re-launch his woman force- the Gorkha Janmukti Nari Morcha (GJMNM.)
Along with regular fire torch rallies in the Hills from February 19 to March 8, the GJNM will organise public meetings at Kurseong on March 3; Mirik on March 10; Kalimpong on March17 and Darjeeling town on March 24.
“This is the final battle for Gorkhaland and we have to be ready to lay down our lives for it. If Bimal Gurung dies the youth and the women’s front will have to carry the agitation forward” remarked Gurung.
However Gurung retracted from his earlier threats of resigning from the post of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Chief. “There is some life left in the GTA. It is at present on life support systems. The day I pull off the life support systems GTA will end. GTA still has a some “Ayu” (life) left” stated Gurung, making it clear that he had no immediate plans of giving up the GTA.
Keeping up the pressure on the State Government Gurung stated that he would announce the next phase of political programmes for Gorkhaland on March 31 from Sukna near Siliguri.
Gurung made no attempts to hide his displeasure regarding the recent political maneuvers of the Mamata Banerjee led state government. The formation of the Lepcha Development Board topped the list.
“The State has embarked on a divide and rule policy. They are trying to creat
e a rift between the Lepchas and the Gorkhas.
The Lepchas have to come forward to foil this attempt. Dressed in traditional attire, they have to come out on the streets for Gorkhaland” stated the GJM Chief.
Incidentally the Lepchas are the indigenous tribals of this region. Recently the West Bengal Government formed a Development Council for the Lepchas.
Gurung cautioned “The state of affairs in West Bengal is deteriorating by the day. TMC supporters are shooting policemen in broad daylight. Similarly they will try to kill all those who take part in the Gorkhaland agitation. There should be President rule in West Bengal.”
The Darjeeling Hills bore an empty look on Sunday with most of the towns including Darjeeling and Kurseong portraying a bandh like picture. The GJM had mobilized all their strength to ensure a huge turnout at Kalimpong in a show of strength.
Gurung alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was instigating the Hills to walk the path of agitation. “They have formed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration but have not transferred the departments yet.
They are interfering in the functioning of the GTA and are instigating communal strife (between the Gorkhas and Lepchas.) They are pushing us towards a full fledged agitation” remarked Gurung. Motorbike rallies from hill towns ended in the rally in Kalimpong.