Having withdrawn its call for a bandh in the Darjeeling hills, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is set for a fresh spell of agitation that includes a “fast-unto-death” by batches of volunteers across the region from Thursday and a relay hunger-strike by its supporters in New Delhi from February 27 in support of its various demands.
“The hunger-strike in the capital will continue till the end of the budget session of Parliament,” senior GJM leader and member of the party’s central committee, Harka Bahadur Chettri told The Hindu over phone from Kalimpong sub-division on Wednesday, a day after the decision was taken by the GJM leadership not to resume the bandh after relaxing it for four days. (The bandh had begun on February 9).
Tea industry circles in the hills are concerned over the GJM’s threat to prevent the despatch of tea – the valued first-flush crop – from tea-gardens in the region from February 27 as part of its agitation. Officials concerned are planning to approach the GJM leadership with a request to reconsider the move, it was learnt.
As for the agitation by the GJM from Thursday Dr. Chettri said that batches of five volunteers belonging to the Gorkaland Personnel (GLP) – an outfit of the GJM – and ex-servicemen will go on a “fast-unto-death” at various places across the three hill sub-divisions as well as in Siliguri.
Their demands include the bringing of Gorkha-dominated pockets in the Terai and the Dooars within the jurisdiction of any “interim” administrative body being considered for the Darjeeling hills that – one that the GJM maintains should lead to the creation of a separate “Gorkhaland” State.
This demand has been ruled out by the West Bengal government. “The GJM has also decided to take its agitation to New Delhi to give it wider nation-wide attention”, Dr Chettri said. “Nearly 300 GJM supporters are expected to participate in the relay hunger strike in New Delhi”, he added.
The ‘padayatra’ programme by GJM supporters through the Dooars to Kumani at the border of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts where GJM president, Bimal Gurung is to address them on February 27 is continuing, Dr Chettri said.
The Jalpaiguri district authorities have imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC in certain parts of the Dooars to prevent any meeting or procession which, it is feared, could disturb peace in the region.