Gurung warns of intensified agitation in Delhi over statehood issue
In its bid to create pressure, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today warned that its proposed political programme in Delhi from December 12 for statehood could be intensified if the central government failed to respond positively. The GJM will hold dharnas and rallies from December 12 to 16 in the national capital as part of its plan not to disturb the hills.
Addressing a packed crowd at the Motor Stand in Darjeeling, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said, “We will hold dharnas and rallies from December 12 to 16. We expect that the central government to initiate talks before the agitation, according to reports we are getting. We are also hopeful of getting a positive response, but if otherwise, we will intensify our programme from December 17 in Delhi. And the repercussion could be felt in the hills. The central government must understand that Gorkhas are not outsiders."
In the same vein, he said he was in constant touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh to pursue the issue of formation of a committee to examine the statehood demand and for granting tribal status to 11 communities of the hills. “The Prime Minister is a man of his words and going by feelers coming from Delhi, we can expect some positive steps to be taken by the year 2019. As for the tribal status demand, we are hopeful that a bill will be placed in Parliament in the monsoon session. We have faith in the government,” Gurung said.
The Centre, has in principle decided to form a committee to examine the statehood demand, but constituent members have not been selected as yet. Further, the Vishu Maini committee set up by the tribal affairs ministry came to Darjeeling last month and conducted field visits to examine the demand for granting tribal status to the eleven hill communities.
Prior to the public meeting, GJM activists organised a 4-km 'Run for Gorkhaland' marathon from Dali to Darjeeling town in support of the statehood demand.
Gurung also took potshots at chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying she did not have the moral right to oppose the demonetisation process initiated by the prime minister as her party was heaped under scams. “They (TMC) came to power in Bengal with the chit fund money of lakhs of common people. Our tea garden workers too had invested in Sharada only to be swindled by the TMC. Now that demonetisation has happened the TMC is afraid that its scams will be unearthed,” Gurung alleged.
He also used the opportunity to take a dig at Banerjee for her recent “emergency like situation” statement in the wake of demonetisation and patrolling by the Army. “We have been suffering from her ‘dadagiri’ for a long time. Now she is getting paid back in her own coin. What the PM is doing is for the better of the country and we approve it,” the GJM chief maintained. (EOIC)