The long term cause of carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland is gaining steam once again in West Bengal’s Darjeeling with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership on Saturday declaring that all government offices would be shut in the hills from Monday. Banks, however, will remain open on Mondays and Thursdays.
After a meeting of the Morcha at Darjeeling’s Malidhura, GJM president Bimal Gurung wrote a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanding for separate Gorkhaland state.
The GJM has in the past called for indefinite strikes, but the group seems to be focused on targeting government establishments.
The state, on the other hand, anticipating the risk of vandalism at government offices, deployed police at these establishments.
“From Monday onwards, all state government and GTA offices will remain shut. Revenue gathering offices of electricity and mines will be closed too. Banks will remain open on Monday and Thursday,” Roshan Giri, General Secretary of GJM said at a press conference after the meeting.
“Gorkhaland is our only demand. The state government gathers revenue from this place and does nothing for the betterment of the hills. We need to have a separate state for our welfare,” Gurung said.
It was also decided in the meeting that all signboards in Darjeeling, Mirik, Kurseong and Kalimpong would bear content only in Nepali and English. A team of GJM leaders will also seek an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh to discuss thr Gorkhaland issue.
Another senior member of GJM said that this time it had been ensured that there was no blanket bandh in the hills so that normal life is not affected. “We are protesting and not calling a bandh. Schools, colleges, transport, emergency services like conservancy, water services, shops and other business outlets will function as usual,” said Swaraj Thapa, central committee member of GJM.
GJM leaders said that there will be several protest programmes demanding a separate state.
TMC leader and state tourism minister Gautam Deb called the protest it “unconstitutional”. “The common people of the hills will suffer for this war on them by GJM. All possible steps to ensure normal life will be taken,” he said.