West Bengal's Darjeeling hills plunged into a fresh spell of political uncertainty with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) announcing on Thursday a series of bandhs beginning with a four-day one from January 12 and ending with a fast-unto-death by its entire leadership next month.
The bandh call is aimed a putting pressure on the Centre to make its stand clear on the issue of a separate Gorkhaland State comprising the hills and certain areas contiguous to it in north Bengal plains. The announcement that carries with it the prospect of a prolonged economic shutdown in the region comes on the heels of the Srikrishna report on the Telangana issue being made public earlier in the day.
The GJM leadership earlier stated that its next political move would hinge on the outcome of the report. Its call for a series of bandh in the coming weeks is being viewed as a ploy to put pressure on the Centre to clarify its views on the GJM's Gorkhaland demand as well as indicating to its detractors that it has not retracted from its Statehood campaign.
“But for certain days in between when it will be temporarily lifted the bandh will continue till February 12. Four days later our senior leaders including GJM president, Bimal Gurung will go on a fast unto death unless we get a clarification from the Centre on its stand on our statehood demand, ” GJM general secretary, Roshan Giri, told The Hindu over phone from Darjeeling.
Earlier the GJM's central committee met to decide on their next move in the wake of the Centre making public the Srikrishna Committee report. Though the GJM leadership had earlier announced that a decision on its future course of action would depend on the outcome of the Srikrishna Committee report it remained non-committal when asked whether by calling a series of bandh it had rejected the proposal for a Gorkhaland Regional Authority (GRA) for the hills that had been the agenda in recent tripartite talks involving it, the Centre and the West Bengal Government.