“The relations with the State Government have come to an end. They cannot be mended,” said Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung on Saturday even as normal life was paralysed in the Darjeeling hills following a 12-hour strike called by the GJM in protest against the Trinamool Congress government’s decision to set up a Development Board for the Lepcha community.
While the strike, the first since the setting up of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in July 2011, signifies a fresh spell of political unrest in the Darjeeling hills, Mr. Gurung’s remarks betray a souring of the relationship between the Trinamool Congress and the GJM.
“The Chief Minister will have to tender an apology to the people of the hills over the matter,” Mr Gurung told journalists.
He said that the GJM will announce its strategy on its core issue (creation of a separate Gorkhaland State) at a public rally to be organised within a few days.
The GJM leadership did not meet Minister for North Bengal Development Gautam Deb, who arrived in the hills on Friday night. Mr Deb, who described his visit as a mission for “peace, development and dialogue”, said that he is open to talks with the GJM leadership.
The call for the strike was given after the State Cabinet’s ratification of a separate Council for the Lepcha community on February 5.
The GJM leadership has described the setting up of the Council as an attempt by the Trinamool Congress government to “divide” the hill people as well as an “infringement” of GTA powers.