Darjeeling hills brace for three-day shutdown from today

 While the Darjeeling hills braced itself for a three-day shut-down from Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked why the Centre was playing with fire by undermining peace in the region to serve “vested political interests,” adding that “it is a matter of shame.”

 Accompanying this is the fresh uncertainty over the future of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) with its chief executive, Bimal Gurung, who is also GJM president, saying that he is prepared to quit the GTA.  “For Gorkhaland I can quit GTA. Give me your hand and I will lead you to Gorkhaland. Be prepared for the Final Battle for Gorkhaland,” wrote Mr, Gurung in a social networking site on Sunday.

 “The West Bengal government has not co-operated with the GTA which has failed to fulfil people’s aspirations. Our president [Mr. Gurung] has announced his intention to step down as the GTA’s chief executive and this could result in the resignations of its remaining elected members all of whom belong to the GJM,” Benoy Tamang, senior GJM leader and GTA member told The Hindu over telephone from the hills.

Referring to the recent talks in New Delhi between senior GJM leaders and some Union Ministers including Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Ms. Banerjee claimed that “it is reported that Delhi has directed the GTA persons to go in for a ‘separatist’ movement.”

 The GJM’s call for its “final battle” comes at a time when the Centre was reportedly going ahead with the creation of Telangana. It is in the light of the developments on the Telangana issue that the GJM reiterates its long standing demand for a separate State of Gorkhland, Mr. Gurung said.

 “Politically our demand may not be equated with Telangana, but historically, socially, culturally, ethically similarity exists. So if Telangana can be created why not Gorkhaland?” the GJM supremo asks.

 But Ms. Banerjee disagrees. “Telangana cannot be compared with Darjeeling,” she has said.