Before Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling addressed about 300 members of the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha at Samman Bhavan in Gangtok, they had been on a long march from Kalimpong in Darjeeling district.
Chamling’s statement proclaiming his support for the Gorkhaland movement, saying it was the Gorkhas’ constitutional right, has provided the much required impetus to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha(GJM), particularly after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee issued an ultimatum to withdraw the ongoing indefinite bandh in the Hills within 72 hours.
On Saturday, she had also threatened to clip the wings of GJM leaders.
On Sunday, Chamling said, “The demand for Gorkhaland is legitimate and a constitutional right of the people of Darjeeling.” He also assured the Hills people that the government and the people of Sikkim were with the people of Darjeeling.
“Mutual respect is the hallmark of the Sikkim-Darjeeling relationship and it must continue. We extend our best wishes to the people of Darjeeling in this movement for statehood of the Hills,” he told the Vidyarthi Morcha supporters consisting of college and university students.
Chamling’s statement, which came on the ninth day of the GJM’s indefinite strike that has crippled the Himalayan state of Sikikm, is also an indication that the Sikkim government this time will not knock on the court’s door to ensure that National Highway 31A remains open during the Darjeeling bandh.
In the past, the Supreme Court had passed an order reminding all concerned to ensure that NH 31A remained open during any bandh in Darjeeling district.
On Sunday, Chamling requested the GJM to keep NH31A out of the purview of the bandh. NH31A, the only communication link for the people of Sikkim with the rest of the country, is affected every time a bandh is called in the Hills.
Vidyarthi Morcha leader Deep Thapa, in his address, traced the ‘hardship’ and ‘discrimination’ faced by the people of Darjeeling under the West Bengal government.
In 2011, the Sikkim Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution seeking the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state stating that the creation of Gorkhaland was vital to ensure the peace, security and development of Sikkim and for free movement along NH-31A.