Gorkhaland demand: National parties face uphill task to resolve unrest in Darjeeling hills; 10 things to know

By: | Updated: June 15, 2017 10:26 AM

Gorkhaland demand: Darjeeling and other parts of the hills in West Bengal continue to witness protests demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

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Gorkhaland demand: Darjeeling and other parts of the hills in West Bengal continue to witness protests demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. With Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) breaking its tie with Mamata Banerjee’s party Trinamool Congress, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has raised its tone. The deepening political crisis has not only forced tourists to leave the picturesque hills but also rattled the national parties. The units of these parties in Darjeeling have broken ranks with Bengal leadership in order to support the demand, according to Indian Express report.

1. The indefinite shutdown in the government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices entered its fouth day today.

2. The protests, which started over West Bengal government’s alleged proposal that Bengali should be taught in government-run schools in Hills, gradually turned into an unrest over Gorkhaland.

3. As the tension escalated in the scenic hills, BJP MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia had asked the Union Home Ministry to form a committee of experts to look into the crisis, according to Indian Express report.

4. It has been learned that Ahluwalia had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi between June 8 and 11. Ahluwalia the government to even consider the demands of Gorkhas, Adivasis and others including Rajbongshis. But party’s state unit led by president Dilip Ghosh and prominet leader Rahul Sinha had rejected the idea of backing the demand.

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5. The Congress and the Left have opposed the demand of the separate state of Gorkhaland. But they were in a fix as they have already accused CM Mamata Banerjee for the situation. They were also finding it increasingly difficult to stand with the people of the Hills over the issue.

6. While Ghosh said they would not allow Bengal to be divided, office-bearers of the BJP Hill Committee stressed that they were Gorkha first. Party national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has clarified the party’s stand saying that there should be discussion over the demand.

7. GNLF-GJM alliance would put more pressure on the national parties. Notably, The GNLF, formed by the late firebrand leader Subhash Ghisingh, had led a violent movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties, following which the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed. Gurung broke away from the GNLF and formed the GJM in 2007 and subsequently emerged as the dominant force in the hills, according to PTI report.

8. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) and a sizeable number of women police personnel were also deployed. The Centre had despatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist the West Bengal government restore normalcy in the violence-hit area.

9. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Governor K N Tripathi in Kolkata and briefed him about the situation in the hills. The state government has removed Donbosco Lepcha, the secretary of the GTA, and appointed C Murugan as the new secretary, a notification issued by the Personnel and Administrative Reforms and e-Governance Department, yesterday, said. The state government had recently replaced GTA Principal Secretary Ravi Inder Singh and brought in Barun Ray.

10. No untoward incident yesterday was reported from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik during the day and despite the bandh call, the state government offices remained open. Vehicles plied as the police remained on high alert and patrolled the streets. Banks and most ATMs were closed, but shops and markets were open. Most of the tourists have left the hills and hotels were empty. Hotel owners told the tourists, who still remained, that they could stay, but at their own risk.

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