National Gorkha body demands UT status for Darjeeling hills; gets BJP lawmaker’s support
Influenced by the Centre’s move to create the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the National Gorkhaland Committee (NGC) has demanded the creation of Union territory of Gorkhaland in West Bengal’s Darjeeling hill region.
The UT status, the committee said on Sunday, would be a step towards finding a permanent political solution to the more than 100-year-old demand for separation from West Bengal.
Many former army officers and bureaucrats from the Gorkha community are members of NGC, a pan-India non-political organisation of Gorkhas and headed by Lieutenant General (retd) Shakti Gurung.
Significantly, the demand was raised at a media conference in Siliguri town in north Bengal in the presence of Darjeeling’s Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Neeraj Zimba Tamang.
Many pro-Gorkhaland political parties, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal Gurung faction), Gorkha National Liberation Front, All India Gorkha League and Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists were also present.
“The NGC has emphasised on the grant of Union territory (status) to the Gorkha community in North Bengal. This is being recommended as an interim measure and as a stepping stone to complete statehood,” Lt General (retd) Shakti Gurung said while releasing a vision document.
“The recommendation for separating the area from the state of West Bengal is on grounds of national security which would also take care of the identity of the Gorkhas,” he said.
The hills of Darjeeling district witnessed a 104-day-long shutdown in 2017 in support of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. Thirteen people were killed during the agitation. Since then, Bimal Gurung, head of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that led the movement, is living in hiding.
“The nation has to concede to the demand for Gorkhaland in its own interest and the NDA government will be doing justice to the Gorkhas,” said Neeraj Zimba Tamang.
In resolutions adopted on Sunday, NGC said, “If the area of Ladakh is sensitive so is the Darjeeling hills area including Siliguri corridor. If Ladakh has a culture and language different to the Kashmir valley, so do the Gorkhas from Bengal. While the population of Ladakh is only 2.5 lacs, the Darjeeling hills area far exceeds this.”
NGC’s secretary, Munish Tamang, said three resolutions were passed unanimously.
“The Gorkhaland demand should be addressed at the earliest keeping in view the election promises in regard to finding a permanent political solution by the NDA government,” one of the resolutions said.
Another demanded talks, involving all stakeholders, to break the deadlock and arrive at a “political solution with the larger interest of national integration.”
The third resolution demanded peace and progress and a state of Gorkhaland as a constitutional and permanent solution.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- Kerala seems to have made considerable progress in tackling the menace, statistics show.