The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters burnt the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Agreement, which binds three hill areas in West Bengal – Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Mirik- under a semi-autonomous administration, ANI reported. The protests and an indefinite strike for a separate Gorkhaland in Darjeeling hills have been going on for the past 15 days. The strike by Gorkha organisations was fueled when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that Bengali would be mandatory language in all state schools. The tripartite GTA Agreement was signed in 2011 by the Bengal government, the Centre and the GJM. GJM President Bimal Gurung had planned to burn the agreement on June 23 after all of the 45 party members resigned from the GTA, according to PTI. With this bold move, the GJM has strongly asserted their demand for a separate state. The strike that began on June 12 in Darjeeling turned violent when three protestors were killed in a police firing. Today, to mark their protest, barechested protestors broke tube lights on their bodies.
A GJM leader told PTI, “We don’t want GTA. We want Gorkhaland. We will continue our agitation for a separate state. We will not participate in election to GTA. By burning the GTA accord we ended relations with the state government.” The protestors had also blocked the National Highway-10 the only way to the neighbouring state Sikkim due to which the tourists to the popular holiday destination were left stranded at the bus depot for hours.
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Gurung had earlier, in a video message, said, “I urge everyone to hit the streets in protest. All leaders should hit the streets with workers and the common people. We are ready for talks only on the issue of Gorkhaland, not on any alternative formula. Some leaders of different parties may betray our cause. Remember that one day, everyone has to die. Either my body will go home or I will return with Gorkhaland.” The Gorkhas from Arunachal Pradesh had also protested in support of their Darjeeling counterparts, PTI reported.