Darjeeling unrest: GJM feels head-on collision imminent, to revive peacekeeping wing

The idea of setting up the GLP by recruiting youths from the hills was first mooted by GJM supremo Bimal Gurung during the Gorkhaland agitation of 2008.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2017 12:24 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Darjeeling
Darjeeling,Darjeeling Unrest,GJM
The Gorkhaland Personnel peacekeeping wing was mooted by GJM chief Bimal Gurung.(AFP)

With the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha gearing up for a prolonged confrontation with the West Bengal government over the Gorkhaland statehood issue, the party’s leadership is planning to revive the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) — its ‘peacekeeping‘ wing.

“The situation is getting worse with each passing day. We feel that a head-on collision is just a matter of time. So we need to prepare ourselves to counter the state government democratically,” GJM central committee member and former in-charge of GLP Colonel (retd) Ramesh Alley told PTI.

“We (GJM) will revive and recruit more youths in GLP, our own peacekeeping force. We are not into any kind of violence nor is GLP into this. But we have to prepare ourselves,” he said.

The GJM, Alley said, wants to raise an 8,000-strong force in the Darjeeling hills that will be well prepared to tackle “any kind of situation”.

The idea of setting up the GLP by recruiting youths from the hills was first mooted by GJM supremo Bimal Gurung during the Gorkhaland agitation of 2008.

Gurung had then held a meeting with former army personnel and officers from the hills and requested them to take charge of selection, recruitment and training of the youths. The outfit was first named Gorkhaland Police, but after opposition from various quarters it was renamed Gorkhaland Personnel.

The criteria for a place in this force was education up to Class 8 and physical fitness and agility. After initial selection, nearly 3,000 youths were trained for joining the GLP.

The force in 2009 enforced bandhs called by the GJM, ensured that locals wear traditional Nepali attire at least thrice a week, seized and destroyed liquor and provided protection to Gurung and top GJM leaders.

Paid only a paltry allowance, GLP youths were promised to be absorbed into the police force after the creation of Gorkhaland. However, the GLP took a back seat and most of its trained youths were absorbed into the GJM youth wing instead following the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in 2011.

“During the GTA, the state government had promised that these youths would be absorbed in the state police force but nothing of the sort happened. Now we no longer have any expectation from the state government. We are Indians and we hope that the Centre will take action to resolve the crisis in the hills,” Alley said.

After Bimal Gurung’s office and other premises of GJM were raided in this latest round of agitation, the party leadership decided to revive the force to counter the alleged police atrocities.

Alley and other GJM leaders pointed out they are not for any armed struggle as that would mean taking up arms against the Centre.

“We have been soldiers all our life. We can never think of armed struggle against the Centre. We love our motherland India, but we want a separate state. It is a fight for our own identity,” Alley said.

Darjeeling has been on the boil for the past few days and and an indefinite shutdown is on by the GJM in support of its separate Gorkhaland demand.

Reacting to the GJM’s decision to revive the GLP, senior TMC leader and minister Gautam Deb said, “ We all know that the GJM is a separatist force. So it is expected that they set up a militant organisation. But we will not allow such separatist forces to grow.”

Police said they were keeping a close watch on all the activities of the GJM and will do the needful.

First Published: Jun 18, 2017 12:22 IST