In a significant move, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) decided on Thursday that schools in Darjeeling would be reopened from September 13 after more than a month, though it maintained that the on-going agitation in support of Gorkhaland would continue.
The decision came after a meeting of the GJM leadership and representatives of the primary and secondary teachers organisations associated with the party, in Darjeeling during the day.
More than 100 schools in the hills remain closed since August 3, a few days after the GJM started a fresh agitation for Gorkhaland following the Centre’s move to create a separate State of Telangana.
A final decision on the fate of the ongoing agitation would be taken by the GJM-led Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) at a meeting on Friday, its chairperson Enos Das Pradhan told The Hindu over phone.
“Most of the members of the delegation who had visited New Delhi and metUnion Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde have returned. We want to hear from them about the assurance given by the Centre before taking a final call,” Mr. Pradhan said.
Mr. Shinde had assured a delegation of senior leaders from the hills of a tri-partite meeting involving the Centre, the State and the party to initiate dialogue with the Gorkhaland agitators.
Even though the GJM leadership softened its stand on educational institutions, it said that no transport would be available to the students and they would have to walk to school.
“The school authorities will have to ensure boarding facilities for all outstation students and also for students who cannot walk to school,” GJM president Bimal Gurung posted on a social networking site. He said there would be no exemption to commercial establishments from the ongoing agitation.
Reiterating that the fight was not against the State government but with the Centre, he called teachers and students to organise a signature campaign for Gorkhaland and send a copy to the President and Prime Minister.
“The school authorities must hold classes on Saturdays and Sundays to make up for lost time,” Mr. Gurung said, emphasising that “students are the future and tomorrow’s voice for Gorkhaland,” so their “success in the coming Higher Secondary and other final examinations need to be ensured by teachers.”
While the GJM said an arrangement to bring outstation students from the airport and railway station to their educational institutions would be made, it also asked the school authorities to ensure that the places where the Central paramilitary forces were housed were vacated before September 13.