IN A bid to put pressure on the Centre, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung has decided to shift his agitation for a separate Gorkhaland from the Darjeeling Hills to New Delhi with demonstrations and hungerstrikes set to take place at the Jantar Mantar from December 12. The Morcha is planning a two-day dharna at Jantar Mantar from December 12, which will be followed by two days of relay hungerstrike and a rally on December 16.
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Gurung, along with GJM vice-president Roshan Giri had recently met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who in turn had assured them of a another meeting soon in this connection. “Rajnath Singh had gone to Cuba for the funeral (of Fidel Castro). He had returned yesterday and we are confident that the meeting will be held soon,” Gurung had said at a rally at Darjeeling Motor Stand on Sunday.
He had also announced that the agitation for Gorkhaland will shift base to Delhi keeping in mind the approaching school examinations in the hills, scheduled for February. “I had thought of holding some part of the agitation in the hills, but looking at students preparing for ICSE, ISC and Madhyamik examinations, I have decided to cancel the agitation in Darjeeling,’’ he said.
The GJM had earlier announced that if the demand to set up a committee on Gorkhaland was not fulfilled by the Centre by December 5, then it would launch protests across the hills. It had, however, not announced a specific plan.
Sources in the GJM said that Gurung, for the time being, does not want to antagonise the Centre. A BJP ally, and staunch rivals of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, GJM has come out in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonitisation move.
“The shifting of the agitation is not related to demonitisation. We have supported the policy. Yes, it is true that some people are suffering — including shopkeepers and tea garden workers. But we have told them that their suffering is little compared to the sacrifices we will have to make for Gorkhaland, which is the ultimate goal. Besides, the impact of demonitisation here has not been as bad as in bigger cities,” GJM MLA Amar Rai said.
“The Gorkhaland agitation has been shifted so that school students are not disturbed. Also, it make sense to do it in Delhi, where the protests would take place before the eyes of the central government,” he added.
The GJM is also pushing for ST status for communities in the hills. “A committee looking into the matter, headed by deputy director in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Vishu Maini, is expected to submit the report within the next fortnight,” said Gurung.
The GJM chief had also attacked Mamata Banerjee on her recent remarks against the Army. On her anti-demonitisation stand, he had said: “She is worried that her chit fund money will be exposed.”