Strike will not be relaxed after 96 hours; it will be indefinite

In a day of dramatic developments, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership that had in the morning revised its call for an indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills from Saturday in support of its Gorkhaland demand and announced it would be relaxed after 96-hours, reverted, only hours later on Thursday, to its earlier stand.

“We have decided to go back to our previous call for an indefinite strike as it now appears that the State government is set on crushing our movement for a separate Gorkhaland with central security forces,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over the phone from Darjeeling in the evening.

The indefinite strike would be relaxed only for a day on Independence Day.

Earlier in the day, GJM president Bimal Gurung said an indefinite strike called by the party leadership would be relaxed from August 7 in view of Eid-ul-Fitr, two days later. He also said that a rally would be held on August 11 where the GJM’s future course of action would be spelt out.

The developments came a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ruled out any division of West Bengal and cautioned that her government would take stern action against those disturbing law and order in the region.

Responding to her remarks, Mr. Giri said, “We have called for a peaceful and democratic movement for a just cause and are against the use of any force. It is obvious that by deploying security forces in the hills in view of our strike call, the West Bengal government is bent on a confrontation. This is unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, a 48-hour strike called by the ‘Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Bachao (Save Bengal and the Bengali language) Committee’ in Siliguri, the Terai and Dooars region of north Bengal in protest against the renewal of the GJM’s Gorkhaland demand, evoked mild response in certain areas, according to local administration. But the committee’s leadership claimed otherwise.