School teachers, professors and students have hit the streets in the form of “apolitical pressure groups” to impress upon political leaders that they must not settle for anything less than their demand for a separate Gorkhaland. “Our past experiences of separate state movements haven’t been very happy ones. It is a good thing that political outfits and apolitical organisations have come together for Gorkhaland. We are now acting as a pressure group to ensure that political parties do not waver from the Gorkhaland path. The people of Darjeeling will not accept anything short of Gorkhaland,” said Komal Gurung, coordinator of the People’s Forum for Gorkhaland (PFG).
The Darjeeling hills had seen a violent movement for Gorkhaland in the mid 1980s under Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Subhash Ghisingh. However, the movement ended with the establishment of a semi-autonomous administrative body in 1988 called Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), headed by Ghisingh.
In 2007, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had again revived the movement but again settled for the formation of another such body, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
On Thursday, the PFG organised a mass signature campaign for Gorkhaland at the Darjeeling Chowrasta. “This proves the clear mandate for Gorkhaland. We will hand over the signature sheets to the pro-Gorkhaland political and apolitical conglomeration. Representatives of the conglomeration will be heading to New Delhi to meet the president, prime minister and Union home minister. We want to ensure that they talk on the single point of agenda of Gorkhaland,” said Komal Gurung. A day earlier, singers, writers, poets and painters had come out on the streets and performed at as well.
With several top GJM leaders including chief Bimal Gurung, his wife and Nari Morcha head Asha Gurung and GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang having gone underground, locals have started a poll on social media to choose an able leader who is a good spokesperson and can be the “face of the movement”.