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Telangana effect: GJM calls indefinite shutdown for Gorkhaland

Darjeeling, July 30, 2013 (IANS): 22:50 IST
Hours after the UPA and the Congress Working Committee endorsed statehood for Telangana, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) announced an indefinite strike in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling Hills from Saturday to press for its demand for Gorkhaland.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung has also resigned as chief executive of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration - an autonomous and elected hill development council which the party has been running for a year.

The ruling Trinamool Congress made light of the developments and said it was prepared to tackle any problem. It ruled out any talks with the GJM.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said Gurung Tuesday faxed his resignation to Governor M.K. Narayanan.

With the hills already paralysed following a 72-hour shutdown called by his party since Monday, Giri said an indefinite shutdown will be organised from Saturday to raise the pitch for the new state of Gorkahland to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts.

"We will go for indefinite shutdowns and our movement will not stop until our demand for Gorkhaland is met. We have already advised students to leave the hills and go to the plains," he said.

"Once the present 72-hour shutdown ends on Wednesday, we will give a two-day respite to the people to stock provisions and the tourists and the students to leave for the plains. The indefinite shutdown will begin Saturday," he said.

"We have called an emergency meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) where we will chalk out our strategy. The other GTA members will also resign soon," he said.

"The UPA has allowed the formation of Telengana. Now we are left with no choice but to intensify our movement for Gorkhaland. Our demand for a separate state is far more older than Telangana," Giri claimed.

Countering the recent claims of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that there was "no apprehension of a division of Bengal", the GJM leadership Monday had threatened and cautioned the state government saying the "demand for Gorkhaland will never die".

The state government said it was keeping a tab on the developments.

Refusing to term Gurung's resignation as a "big setback", North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb said: "We are prepared to tackle the problems. We want both the hills and plains to coexist peacefully."

Describing the granting of statehood to Telengana as an" unfortunate decision of the Congress aimed at vote bank politics", Deb said it has now spurred the GJM to intensifying its movement, but ruled out any immediate talks with the hill's most prominent party.

"So far we don't think a situation has arisen for the state government to hold talks with the GJM. We are keeping a tab on the development and shall deal with the situation as it unfolds."

The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) expressed concern over the situation in Darjeeling.

"We don't endorse creation of any new state because it would trigger numerous demand s for separate states. Since the decision for Telangana has been taken, there is nothing we can do. But we are now concerned about Darjeeling and the repurcusausioons there," said CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya.

The Gorkhaland movement has left many dead over the past two decades besides affecting the region's economy based on tea, timber and tourism.

On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up the (GTA, armed with more powers than its predecessor -- the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.
The GJM now runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration after sweeping its maiden elections held in July 2012. The Trinamool had pulled out of the polls.

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