The leadership of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has announced a series of agitations in the Darjeeling hills from Tuesdayif its demand for tripartite talks on the creation of a separate State is not met.
The decision on Sunday has come at a time when the State government has announced a slew of development projects for the region.
“This fresh spell of agitation by the GJM will commence on Tuesday with the closure of all government offices apart from those of the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police. If our demand for the finalisation of the date for the next round of tripartite talks with the Centre and the State government is not met by July 24, we shall observe a day's strike the following day,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told TheHindu over telephone.
“The strike will be resumed for three days on July 28. This will be followed by a call for a 40-day bandh in the region from August 2 if the date for the talks is not announced by then,” Mr Giri said.
Only two days ago, State's Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya visited Darjeeling for the first time since the GJM was formed in October 2007 to announce several development schemes. These include housing and slum development projects and additional funds for the building of houses destroyed in Cyclone Aila that hit the State in May 2009.
The GJM's plans for a fresh spell of agitations is another way for the party's leadership to convey to the people of the region that it has not given up on its statehood demand. This is to stave off a political campaign by non-GJM regional parties that the GJM had “betrayed” the statehood cause by proposing an interim administrative council for the region.
The GJM leadership subsequently changed tack and had given a call for the setting up of a separate “Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh” instead of the earlier “Gorkhaland” state — a ploy to win over the support of the adivasis in the Terai and Dooars areas in the plains of north Bengal for its statehood demand.
“There is now no question of such an interim council. We demand nothing less than a separate State and that should be sole agenda for the next round of tripartite talks,” Mr. Giri said.