KOLKATA: Vexed with both the Centre and the state for turning their backs on the Gorkhaland statehood issue, leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) have decided to intensify the agitation by launching a fast-unto-death from July 15, without lifting the indefinite strike that entered its 27th day on Tuesday.
Speaking to media after the fourth all-party meeting in Mirik on Tuesday, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) assistant general secretary Binay Tamang said, “One leader each from all parties constituting the GMCC will sit for the fast-unto-death protest at Chowrasta in Darjeeling from 11 am from July 15.”
Though the formal announcement of those participating in the fast would be made at 4 pm on Thursday, sources revealed that Binay Tamang of GJM, Neeraj Zimba of GNLF, PP Sharma of GRNM and Pratap Khati of ABGL would be involved. SDO, BDO and DM offices in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts would be gheraoed on Thursday.
The GMCC has also given an ultimatum to all chairmen and vice-chairmen of ethnic development boards to resign before Friday or be branded as ‘anti-Gorkhaland’. Many offices of the ethnic development boards have been burnt and several members have tendered their resignations since trouble began in the hills from June 8.
Pro-Gorkhaland parties have decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya on July 13 as ‘Gorkha Jaati Ekta Diwas’ and return all awards given by the West Bengal government on the same day. The next all-party meeting will be held on July 18. On the other hand, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her call to bring back peace in the hills. “We will not let Darjeeling burn. We will not bow down to the Centre’s conspiracy in the hills. I urge the people not to play with fire in Darjeeling and establish peace there,” she said at a public rally on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Centre and state over the indefinite strike. Hearing a PIL on deploying central forces in the hills, acting Chief Justice Nishtha Mhatre said that people could not suffer just because there are separate governments at the Centre and the state.
The High Court also pulled up the CBI in the Madan Tamang murder case in which GJM chief Bimal Gurung and 17 others were given anticipatory bail and asked them to be present in Kolkata.
The court asked the central investigating agency to file an affidavit detailing steps taken to ensure the GJM leaders are present. The next date of hearing will be on Friday.
Douse the hills: Artistes from Bengal write to PM Modi
KOLKATA: A host of nationally reputed intellectuals including painters, actors and litterateurs in West Bengal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday seeking restoration of normalcy in Darjeeling. “A section of the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal have once again raised a demand for a separate Gorkhaland state on a flimsy ground... Contrary to their allegations, people of Bengal have always stood by them in their efforts to enrich their culture, language and ethos with proper honour,” the letter said. Sahitya Academi award winning author Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay and classical vocalist Pandit Ajay Chakraborty were among those who signed the letter.