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Demand for another state

Fresh push for a Greater Cooch Behar, rallies planned in five districts of North Bengal

kolkata Updated: Sep 19, 2013 10:19 IST
Ravik Bhattacharya

A fresh agitation for a new state is around the corner in North Bengal. Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) has decided to launch an agitation for a new state, which according to them will consist of five districts in the state (North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Cooch Behar) apart from Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Kokrajhar in Assam.

A series of 8 public meetings gave been scheduled by GCPA from September 19 to October 2. Among the venues is Phansidewa in Darjeeling, where GCPA will oppose the demand for Gorkhaland.

The fresh push for a Greater Cooch Behar state comes at a time when a cornered Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling has threatened to launch a ‘bloody agitation’ after October 20.

“We cannot sit quietly. It is time to hit the streets with our demand. We will tell people our demand and progress of talks with the Centre. Our district committees have already finalised the venue in Bengal and Assam where mammoth public meetings will be held,” said Nirmal Roy, president of GCPA.

The GCPA has planned to hold the first rally in Phansidewa (Darjeeling district) on September 19. This will be followed by meetings in Raigunj (North Dinajpur), Islampur in (South Dinajpur), Dhupguri (Jalpaiguri) and Cooch Behar on September 20, 21, 22 and 24 respectively.

On September 26, 29 and October 2, rallies will be held in Dhupguri, Bongaigaon and Kokrajhar in Assam. GCPA has already asked its organisations to build up awareness on the ground.

“In majority of the venues we have got police permission the rallies will be peaceful. The British brought the Gorkhas to Darjeeling. They are foreigners. We are indigenous people and Darjeeling is an integral part of our proposed state. We will hold a rally in Darjeeling where will say this,” added Roy.

In 1998, The Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association was formed which initiated the fight for a separate state. Since last year and continuing till August this year, GCPA representatives held talks with the union home ministry.

According to the association, the British government took charge of the then Cooch Behar kingdom through various treaties from 1773 to 1902.

Twenty seven days before independence, the British returned the land to the Cooch Behar dynasty.

On August 28, 1949 on request from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the kingdom merged with India.

“On 26 November 1949 through the constitution, the area was included into C category state (centrally administered states). However, in January 1 1950, using a old and abandoned British law the areas were merged with West Bengal and Assam,” said Roy.