The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders reiterated their resolve to launch an indefinite bandh in Darjeeling after giving a glimpse of a softening of its stand on Thursday morning when they said the bandh will be curtailed to 96 hours.
GJM, which had decided on Wednesday evening to launch an indefinite bandh said on Thursday morning that they would observe a 96-hour bandh starting from Saturday. GJM chief Bimal Gurung had said that they cut short their protest plans to facilitate Muslims celebrate the Eid. However, their decision changed within hours.
“Our movement is peaceful in nature but the state government has sent central forces to the hills to curb our peaceful agitation. Hence we were forced to change our plans and intensify agitation,” Gurung said in a media conference on Thursday evening.
“There will be an indefinite bandh from Saturday with a relaxation on August 15 only. Barring this day, there won’t be relaxation for even an hour,” he added. Tea gardens and cinchona plantations would be, however, exempted from the bandh.
HT has already reported how Sikkim will feel the pangs of this bandh and is exploring even rationing of essential items during the agitation.
A team of five Morcha leaders, including three MLAs, is going to New Delhi on Friday to meet union ministers to press for their demands of a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Tension between GJM and state government has been increasing ever since Gurung’s party decided to quit Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and paralyze the region demanding statehood. On Wednesday, the state government not only accepted Gurung’s resignation from GTA but also acted fast to withdraw personal security given to GTA post-holders and remove red beacon from their vehicles.
Significantly, GJM has revived its stir for a separate state of Gorkhaland after the Congress Working Committee approved the Telengana state. But state government’s gesture gave clear signals to the GJM leadership that chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not going to tackle the demand of statehood softly.
“The law will take its own course. But if anyone creates tension at Darjeeling, the state government will take strong action. We cannot dissolve the GTA since it has been created through a tripartite agreement between the state government, Union government and GJM,” the chief minister had said on Wednesday.
The GJM’s fight is likely to get tougher as the main opposition party in the state, CPI(M), too is against splitting of West Bengal to carve out Gorkhaland. The GJM, however, has decided to go full swing in movement mode.