Darjeeling crisis: 10 things to know about Mamata’s Gorkhaland challenge
Trouble broke out in Darjeeling over the decades-long demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland as hill parties went on a rampage and torched vehicles.Updated: Jun 14, 2017 12:23 IST
A man walks past closed shops during a general strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling. Thousands of tourists fled the hill resort after local activists demanding the creation of a new state warned that a general strike could degenerate into violence.The GJM seemed to gain momentum from a joint forum of 26 trade unions calling for a two-day general strike among tea workers. Currently paramilitary forces are patrolling the city with all government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices closed indefinitely. (AFP)
A crisis in Darjeeling deepened on Tuesday after the parties in the north Bengal hills came together to demand a separate state. Trouble broke out last week over the decades-long demand as hill parties went on a rampage and torched vehicles, forcing the administration to call out the army.
Here are 10 things to know about the violence and protests:
1. The hill political parties agreement on Tuesday to push for Gorkhaland sent a loud message to the state government that when it came to the question of identity and separate state, the parties are ready to bury their differences and explore a united platform to step up the struggle.
2. Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) that partnered the ruling Trinamool Congress in the civic polls only last month also fully endorsed the push for a separate state, embarrassing chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
3. The all-party meeting on Tuesday has also put the BJP into a tricky situation as its representative not only attended the meeting called by GJM, its ally, but also signed the resolution.
4. In the coming days it may mean more trouble in the north Bengal hills that has already witnessed a flare-up on June 8 when the administration had to seek the help of the army to tackle the law and order situation.
5. GNLF not only declared they will abandon the demand for Sixth Schedule of the Constitution (that gives a degree of autonomy for the hills) and settle for nothing less than Gorkhaland, but also urged GJM to walk out of the GTA Accord to step up agitation for a separate state.
6. Trinamool Congress was further embarrassed when a leader of the party in the hills, former head of Kalimpong municipality Chandra Kumar Kumai, resigned from TMC and remarked that the state government has humiliated the people of the hills by deploying army.
7. All the hill parties present in Tuesday’s all-party meeting in Darjeeling urged for the need of collective leadership in the hills with the single point agenda of pushing for a new state.
8. However, there were differences among the hill parties too. While GNLF, the party founded by late Subhash Ghising that started a militant agitation for Gorkhaland in the eighties, has asked GJM to walk out of the semi-autonomous body GTA, Harka Bahadur’s Jan Andolan Party asked the Morcha councillors to quit four the civic boards it won last month and its three MLAs to resign as well.
9. The next all-party meeting will be held on June 20 when the next step will be decided.
10. The most prominent Left leader in north Bengal and the mayor of Siliguri, Ashok Bhattacharya, has alleged that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has displayed little sensitivity towards the Gorkha identity and the latest flare-up is its direct outcome.