Demanding that a Gorkhaland State be carved out of the Darjeeling district and certain areas contiguous to it in north Bengal, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership on Sunday threatened to intensify its agitation unless the date of the fifth round of tripartite talks is announced by February 10.

Volunteers from the GJM’s youth organisations will also go on a 48-hour relay hunger strike in different towns in the Darjeeling district and the Dooars from Tuesday in protest against the Centre and State government’s silence over the holding of a fifth round ofdiscussions at a political level on the issue, GJM general-secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

“We have extended the deadline for a decision on the date of the tripartite talks till February 10 and shall intensify our agitation for Gorkhaland State if there is no announcement by then,” Mr. Giri added.

The GJM is also insisting that Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee attend the next round of discussions which should be held “at the political level.” It has threatened to boycott the talks if the two leaders fail to turn up.

The GJM had sought a fifth round within 45 days at the last round of talks that were held in Darjeeling on December 21, 2009. Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai had then said that the GJM’s request would be referred to the Centre and the State government. The GJM is yet to receive a response even though the 45-day period expired on Saturday.

Last month, GJM president Bimal Gurung sent a proposal to the Centre for an interim administrative arrangement in the Darjeeling hills till 2011 to pave the way for the creation of Gorkhaland state.

The political situation in the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars in the plains of north Bengal has been tense over the past few days.

Violence flared up in the hills on February 4, when GJM supporters went on a rampage, setting ablaze buses and a police vehicle and laid siege to the thanas in four hill towns protesting against the arrest of 22 members of its youth wing. Though things were brought under control, the administration refused to grant permission to hold rallies in Siliguri and the Dooars which the GJM leadership had planned for Sunday.

Rallies and processions were, however, taken out on the day in the three hill sub-divisional towns.