After being granted permission by the Darjeeling police to organise public meetings and weekly rallies, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) made a plea to political parties working in the hills to work in tandem to strengthen the 100-year-old demand for statehood on Friday.
The police relented after having withdrawn permissions earlier, when they had booked GJM chief Bimal Gurung and 14 youth leaders from his party for allegedly making provocative speeches and inciting the public after declaring the Gorkhaland Agitation.
At a press conference, Asha Gurung, president of the Nari Morcha Central Committee and the GJM chief’s wife, lamented the lack of unity in the hills. “It is a dilemma that we haven’t been able to address yet. Parties never work unitedly for the cause. That is why we haven’t been able to achieve statehood even after 100 years. In the plains, parties are able to forget their differences and unite against our rightful demand for a separate state,” she said. Gurung had also taken the same approach, maintaining that by not allowing the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) to function properly, the state was “dividing the hills, socially and culturally”.
On Thursday, the Nari Morcha had hit the streets and organized the first of their weekly rallies and public meetings in Darjeeling. Sushma Rai, a senior member of the Nari Morcha’s core committee, addressed supporters at Chowk Bazar, where she accused the state government of conspiring to divide and destroy the social and cultural fabric of the hills to forever silence the voices demanding separate statehood. The Nari Morcha will organise rallies and public meetings every Wednesday. The GJM’s youth wing will be doing the same from September 9. Members of the GJM’s student front have been on a relay hunger strike since August 25.
The renewed cry for separate statehood comes at a time when the GJM is tottering in the hills. Last week, one of its senior-most leaders and chairman of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Pradeep Pradhan, joined the TMC along with seven other GJM leaders. Pradhan claimed to have joined the ruling party with 6,000 GJM workers. Moreover, in the recently concluded state elections, the party’s performance was way below par. According to GJM insiders, Gurung had threatened to quit the GTA and relaunch the movement for a separate Gorkhaland.
When they had booked Gurung, police had said that they had evidence against him and some youth leaders.
At Tukvar, Gurung had called for an “armed struggle” for achieving statehood and also the “need to shed blood”, while youth leaders had repeatedly gone up on stage and spoken about “severing the heads” of anti-Gorkhaland people, said an officer.