Darjeeling violence: The scenic city and other parts of the surrounding hills today witnessed an indefinite bandh that was called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and it ensured empty government offices even as the Mamata Banerjee government had warned its employees that absence from duty will be considered a break in service. Paramilitary force has been deployed in the city to prevent any untoward incidents. Tourists were facing problems, according to ANI report. GJM president Bimal Gurung had asked tourists to leave the hills and renewed the demand for Gorkhaland. The GJM, which is an ally at the Centre of the ruling NDA, had kept educational institutions, transport and hotels out of its purview. All state government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices were directed to remain shut by GJM. Notably, the GTA is headed by GJM. Banks have been directed to open only twice a week, according to agency report. The state government in its notification had categorically said that any absence will be considered as a break in service and no salary will be admissible unless covered by reasonable grounds.
The GJM had on Friday called a 12-hour bandh in the hills against the TMC government’s decision to introduce Bengali language in schools in the hills. Last week Darjeeling had witnessed large-scale violence. GJM supporters and workers had clashed with the police and set ablaze several government vehicles. Army had staged flag marches in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong to restore peace. The protests over the language issue had reignited the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
“The government has encroached on our identity, our language Nepali. We will never tolerate it,” Gurung said, adding that they were ready to court arrest and go to jail for the sake of the agitation. He also blamed CM Banerjee for forcing them to renew of the demand for a separate state. Gurung stressed that they would stick to their demand for a separate state and continue with the agitation for achieving it.
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Notably, Darjeeling hills had seen a violent movement for a separate Gorkhaland in the mid 1980s under Subhash Ghisingh. The movement ended with the establishment of a semi-autonomous administrative body in 1988 called Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council headed by Ghisingh. As Ghisingh’s influence waned over time, the GJM launched another movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland. In 2011, the GJM signed an agreement with the state and central governments, and another semi-autonomous administrative unit GTA was born replacing the DGHC.