Relief for more energetic agitation – Morcha to PC: Scaledown only a prelude

The Telegraph

Darjeeling, Feb. 1: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said the Union home minister “will always have reasons to be happy when a movement is scaled down” but the temporary suspension of political activities was actually a preparation for a long term agitation for Gorkhaland.

Union home minister P. Chidambaram, while presenting his ministry’s report card for January, had yesterday said the “next steps are being actively considered”, hinting that a draft of the interim set-up would soon be handed over to the Morcha.

Chidambaram had also said he was happy to note that the Morcha had lifted the bandh. The minister was referring to the 27-day strike called by the Morcha in the hills last month to pressure the Centre to clear its stand on Gorkhaland.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the spokesperson for the Morcha, said: “The home minister will always have reasons to be happy when a movement is scaled down. But this suspension of agitation is only to give a breathing space to our frontal organisations so that they can chart a strong agitation, and also to mentally prepare the people for a long term struggle for Gorkhaland.”

Chhetri made it clear that the decision to scale down the agitation had been taken before they came to know about Chidambaram’s statement. “The home minister has practically said nothing. He has merely thanked the Morcha for suspending the agitation but this slowing down is to provide the party with more energy for the movement,” he said.

The Morcha had yesterday announced that the “long march for Gorkhaland” led by Bimal Gurung, which was stopped at Kumani More by the administration, is being suspended till February 6. It had also said there would be no demonstrations in front of police stations from February 1 to 3. The demonstrations will resume on February 4. But the relay hunger strike will continue as usual. A proposed padayatra from Darjeeling to the Terai, which had been lined up for February 2, had also been postponed.

As of now, the Morcha maintained that there was no way the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills would be accepted. “The central committee of the party has already decided to reject the interim set-up.”

The party seems to be peeved that the Union government did not exert enough pressure on the state government to agree on the interim set-up on its terms.

“There were talks about rationalising the territory under the interim set-up, forming joint verification committee to include Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars but it seems they (Union and state governments) have not reached any conclusion on these issues. The Union government has not been able to exert pressure and for us there is no question of leaving the Gorkha dominated areas of the Dooars (out of the set-up),” said Chhetri.

The Morcha said the Bengal government had started projecting the set-up as the final solution. “We had repeatedly made it clear that during the two year tenure of the interim set-up, negotiations should continue for a final solution which should either be a Union Territory or statehood. We had wanted a clear and a written statement to start the process of separation,” said Chhetri, hinting that the interim set-up was a closed chapter as far as the Morcha was concerned.


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