Bimal Gurung accuses Mamata government of attempting to divide and rule” the hills

The political crisis in the Darjeeling hills deepened on Sunday, with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) moving closer to a confrontation with the West Bengal government. It announced a “non-cooperation movement” that will include a series of general strikes and closure of government offices in March to highlight its demand for a separate State. At a rally in Kalimpong, GJM president Bimal Gurung said while there would be a two-day general strike beginning on March 14, and then one again on March 21, in areas under the jurisdiction of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), all Central, State government and GTA offices would remain closed from March 9 to March 27. The GTA’s days were numbered, Mr. Gurung cautioned.

He had, earlier this month, expressed his desire to step down as its Chief Executive. While the body is simply an “interim arrangement” and the GJM’s “ultimate goal” is a separate Gorkhaland, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s remarks during her visit to the hills late in January had only precipitated the present standoff, he said.