United India? Telangana just one of many demands
With a separate Telangana state soon to become reality, demand for smaller states to be carved out of from existing states is again gaining momentum.
West Bengal and Assam are witnessing a resurgence of the protracted movements for Gorkhaland and Bodoland, respectively. The call for carving out a separate Vidarbha state out of Maharashtra has also started gaining heat.
Most markets were shut and vehicular traffic was minimal on Monday in West Bengal's Darjeeling hills as a 72-hour shutdown in support of a Gorkhaland state began. According to police, there were stray incidents of violence, including the torching of three vehicles, in the protest called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).
At least 50 people have been arrested for trying to forcibly enforce the shutdown. Schools, markets and government and private offices remained shut. The Gorkhaland movement has left many dead over the past two decades besides affecting the region's economy -- tea, timber and tourism.
On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous and elected hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor -- the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.
Read more: Gorkhas, Bodos take cue, get battle ready
The GJM now runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration after sweeping its maiden elections held in July 2012.
While the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership is discussing the matter, the Bodo students are also gearing up to revive the movement. The agitations have a bloody history and there is apprehension of the cycle being repeated.
Reacting to chief minister Mamata Bannerjee's statement that her state would never be divided, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said: "If there is Telangana, there has to be Gorkhaland. We are planning our move in the light of new developments."
Read more: Demand for Vidarbha gains momentum
Ominously, he added: "It will be a final battle this time around."
The Bodos are equally eager. All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) vice-president Jiron Basumatary said: "We have waited decades; we cannot wait any longer. We will meet on Tuesday to chart out a series of agitations to press for a separate state."
The executive council of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) also met on Monday and reiterated a February 2010 resolution demanding the setting up of a separate Bodo state.
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