Gorkhaland’ renamed to woo tribals

The Times of India
Deep Gazmer, TNN, May 31, 2010, 08.49am IST

DARJEELING: After stiff opposition from the Adivasis over the inclusion of Dooars in the interim set-up, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has now decided to change the name of the proposed state from Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh (GAP), to gain the former’s cooperation in the separate statehood struggle.

Announcing the change of nomenclature at a meeting on the St Joseph’s School ground in Singamari on Sunday, GJM president Bimal Gurung appealed to Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) to sit for talks.

“Both the Adivasis and the Gorkhas have been suppressed by Bengal. Now that the nomenclature has changed, we request the ABAVP to sit for talks to help both of us gain liberation from the imperial rule of the CPM-led government,” he said. “People of the Dooars and Terai should not feel isolated as the time has come to start a joint venture. We will hold meetings in Dooars very soon to gain the people’s confidence,” he added.

Widespread violence had erupted after the GJM tried to enter the Dooars and hold its public meeting there. The Adivasis are opposed to Gorkhaland and are demanding a Sixth Schedule status for Dooars instead.

A sea of GJM supporters from Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik, Siliguri, Dooars, Jalpaiguri and even from Kolkata, Dehradun and Delhi thronged the meeting venue. While many of them had started their journey to Darjeeling on Saturday evening, many were seen pouring in even after the meeting ended around 4 pm on Saturday.

“Today’s show of support dispenses my fear that people had isolated me. I never believed in violence and worked diligently for 32 months for the people’s benefit. This meeting is for peace in the Darjeeling hills and the plains,” asserted the GJM chief.

Armed Gorkhaland Personnel (GLPs) were seen manning the streets in camouflage fatigues right from the centre of the town to the venue in Singamari. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police restricted themselves to checking vehicles near Ghoom and the railway station, but were nowhere to be seen at the venue.

After AIGL leader Madan Tamang’s murder on May 21, people had voiced their resentment against Gurung and GJM and had come out in thousands for the funeral procession. They had torn

up GJM flags and even a poster bearing Gurung’s picture near the Planter’s Club in Darjeeling.

“I reiterate that neither I nor my party is involved in Tamang’s murder. It is a conspiracy by the state government and some political parties to derail our peaceful statehood movement,” Gurung alleged.

The GJM leader said he had already written to the Centre, seeking a CBI inquiry into the AIGL leader’s murder. At the same time, he asserted that if any of his leaders or supporters were implicated, they should get punished.

Dwelling on the interim arrangement, which is yet to see the light of day, the GJM chief roared: “The state and Centre want to give us an interim set-up with only 22-23 moujas. But I will not accept anything without the Dooars and Terai. Henceforth all talks will be on Gorkhaland.”

The GJM has demanded the inclusion of all those areas in the Dooars and the Terai that have a Nepali-dominated population, from the northern side of NH-31.

Secretarial-level talks were held in April but they failed to yield any result as the GJM leadership stuck to its all inclusive demand. The next round of dialogues, on a political level, is expected to be held by June 10.

The GJM has also suspended its proposed 10-day strike (from June 12-21) in the Hills. The bandh in government offices has also been withdrawn for the talks. “We have decided to suspend our proposed strike in June and the closure of government offices as we have information that the government will announce the date of the tripartite meeting sometime early June,” said Gurung.

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www.kalimpong.info

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