In the wake of ongoing unrest in the northern West Bengal hills, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Saturday called for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling from Monday in support of its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. “All central and state government offices, banks, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration offices will be closed as part of the shutdown from Monday. However, schools and colleges will be outside the purview of the shutdown,” GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told media persons after the party’s central committee meeting.
As part of the protest, Block Development Offices, Sub-divisional Offices and District Magistrate’s offices will also be closed. The state government’s revenue sources like electricity, mines and boulders will also be part of the shutdown, Giri said.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government’s decision to make Bengali mandatory up to class 10 had triggered the present round of movement. On Thursday, Darjeeling turned into a virtual battlefield after GJM supporters clashed with the police when they were stopped from marching to the Raj Bhawan where the state cabinet meeting was underway.
The GJM also announced that signboards in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik and several parts of Dooars and Terai could be written only in Nepali and/or English.
Giri further said there would be torchlight rallies in various wards and assembly constituencies of the hills from 7 to 8 pm starting Monday for the sake of ‘Gorkhaland’s revival. “There will also be mass signature campaign in favour of Gorkhaland. The signatures will be sent to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister,” he added.
Earlier in the day, GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said agitation in Darjeeling hills will not stop until and unless a separate Gorkhaland is created. “If TMC wants to play with fire they will regret it,” he said. “We will appeal to the people not to cooperate with the state government. It is taking away so much resources from the hills and what are the people of the hills getting? We are getting nothing. This has to stop. We will fight for our freedom and will not allow the divisive politics in the hills,” Gurung said.
With inputs from IANS, PTI