Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gorkhaland demand revived in Siliguri rally “Statehood by 2010”-Bimal Gurung

SILIGURI, May 7: The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland received a much needed shot in the arm with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) renewing its commitments towards achieving this long-standing aspiration of the people of the Darjeeling Hills.
GJM president Bimal Gurung revived the demand for Gorkhaland at a massive public rally held at the Indira Gandhi maiden here today, which was attended by over three lakhs supporters from all over the Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars area.
Yesterday, the Morcha had officially revived the demand for a separate Gorkhaland by sending a memorandum to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
In the memorandum, the GJM said that the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council that came into being 1989, through a tripartite agreement, has become redundant, as it has failed to fulfil the aspirations of people. The people of the hills would not settle for anything less than a separate Gorkhaland state, the memorandum stated.
Addressing the rally, Mr. Gurung said that the demand for Gorkhaland was a “legitimate demand” and it was because of the West Bengal Government that the “andolan” had suffered resulting in the demand taking so long to be fulfilled. “It is because of leaders like Asok Bhattacharya that the Gorkhaland issue had taken a back seat. They do not want a Gorkhaland at any cost and would see to it that the aspirations of the people of the Hills were never fulfilled. Now, all this is over. The people want Gorkhaland and we will achieve this dream of ours at any cost,” Mr. Gurung said. “Gorkhaland will be a reality by 2010,” he declared.
Speaking on the incident of May 2 during which the Morcha women party workers were beaten up by the CPIM party workers here, Mr. Gurung gave the West Bengal Government seven days time nab the culprits or else he would send 10,000 of his supporters “to do the needful.” He also threatened to carry out an indefinite strike across the Darjeeling Hills if the culprits were not arrested in the given time period.
In his address, Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri, the Central Committee member of GJM said that the history supports the theory that Siliguri was never part of the West Bengal and therefore the demand for its inclusion in the proposed state of Gorkhaland was valid and historically accurate.
Atul Roy, the President of Kamtapur People’s Party in his address said that the demand of the Gorkhaland was very valid and the Centre as well as the WB government should work towards fulfilling this aspiration of the Hills people. The Greater CoochBehar Democratic Party leaders also joined the rally. The two outfits are demanding a separate state for Rajbanshis, Kochs and other ethnic minorities and have become strategic partners of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha.
Others to address the gathering were Roshan Giri, general secretary, GJM, Ausotosh Burman, President Greater CoochBehar Democratic Party and the GJM Central Committee members Jyoti Kala Subba, Pradeep Pradhan, Ramesh Alley, Sawar Agarwal, among others.
The turnout at today’s rally spoke volumes of the support base of the GJM. Earlier, the party had expected around 100,000 people would turn up for the rally. A tight security arrangement was in place, with the West Bengal Government deploying four additional platoons of central security forces in the city. In order to ensure peace the GJM leaders were issued a strict code of conduct for those attending the rally. All schools in the city remained closed today. Around 15,000 Morcha supporters had been deputed at volunteers.
The mood in the hills was upbeat with truckloads of hill people descending to the city since yesterday morning. Most of the shops and business establishments in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik were closed today and the streets wore a deserted look with few people walking around.