Darjeeling, Jan. 29: Seventeen members of the Gorkha Janmukti-Adivasi Morcha today started a fast-unto-death in front of the Gorubathan police station even as Bimal Gurung’s outfit asked the people in the hills not to pay any electricity bills.
Those on fast — six of them are Adivasis — are members of different frontal organisations of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, also known as the Janmukti-Adivasi Morcha in the Dooars. The outfit has drawn up a list of six demands that the government has to fulfill before the hunger strike is withdrawn.
“We want all the tea gardens which are closed in the Dooars and Terai to be open immediately. The life and property of our supporters must be protected. The Janmukti-Adivasi Morcha must be allowed to hold its political programme in the Dooars. Cases against our supporters must be withdrawn and the 14 (Adivasi) leaders whose names we had submitted to the chief minister for stoking violence in the Dooars must be arrested,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the party.
The general secretary, however, did not cite any reason as to why the people had been told to refrain from paying the power bills. “All that I can say is that this is our party stand.”
The party had asked the hill people to stop paying taxes to the state government as part of its non-cooperation movement from April 1 last year. Till August, the outstanding dues in the hills had come to about Rs 9.36 crore.
In September, the Morcha directed residents to clear the electricity bills for three months starting from October after a reported request from the chief minister. The people were supposed to pay the amount in January. In the hills, the electricity bills come every three months.
But with the latest Morcha diktat, the government is likely to lose nearly Rs 6 crore. Every month, the outstanding dues in the hills are Rs 2 crore.