GJM calls 72-hour bandh in Darjeeling Hills demanding Gorkhaland
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Saturday called a 72-hour shutdown in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling Hills from Monday, demanding a new state of Gorkhaland.
"We have given a call for the shutdown to press home our demand for Gorkhaland," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told IANS over the phone.
"We have been told that the central government is going to concede the demand to carve out a Telengana state out of Andhra Pradesh. When they are ready to form Telengana, why wouldn't they give us Gorkhaland?" Giri asked.
The long-standing agitation for forming a separate state out of the northern West Bengal hills has led to loss of many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting hard the region's economic mainstays of 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 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.
The GJM now runs the GTA after sweeping its maiden elections last July.
However, Giri said the GTA accord mentions that the GJM was signing the pact without dropping the Gorkhaland demand.
"We never dropped the demand for Gorkhalnd. And it is clearly spelt out in the GTA treaty," he said.