Hours after the BJP-led government at the Centre carved out Ladakh from Jammu & Kashmir and granted it Union Territory status with no legislature, posters demanding the same surfaced in the hills of Darjeeling in West Bengal on Monday.
“BJP and its allies should make it public what they meant by a ‘permanent political solution’ for Darjeeling during the Lok Sabha elections. If the Regional Autonomy status of Ladakh could be upgraded to Union Territory then why not in Darjeeling?” one of the posters read.
BJP’s Raju Bista had won from Darjeeling in the last Lok Sabha election held in May this year.
Bimal Gurung, the former president of the undivided Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), who backed the BJP candidate during the Lok Sabha polls also demanded the same. In a statement issued to the press, the GJM leader demanded the Centre invoke Article 3 of the Constitution and impose Central rule in Darjeeling Hills.
“Infiltration is high in North Bengal, and it is a security threat. The Central government tackled the security threat in Jammu and Kashmir by converting it to a Union Territory. In a similar manner, the Central rule can be imposed in Darjeeling Hills too,” Gurung said.
His rival, Binay Tamang, who leads a separate faction of the GJM and is considered close to the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state, also demanded a statehood or UT status for the Hills.
“There is a long-pending demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland in the hills of Darjeeling. The Centre should grant the demand or give the Union Territory,” Tamang told mediapersons after the BJP government tabled the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in Rajya Sabha.
“Ladakh also had semi-autonomy like Darjeeling,” Tamang said, adding that his outfit will launch an agitation and political programmes for separate statehood after the Independence Day on August 15.
The agitation for Gorkhaland was launched by Subhas Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation (GNLF) in the late 1980s.
Two years ago, Gurung re-initiated the agitation for Gorkhaland with a shutdown that lasted 104 days. Eleven people were killed in clashes with police in the Hills. As state police slapped cases against Gurung and his aides, he fled the Hills.