DARJEELING: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) went into further antagonism with West Bengal government on Friday after 43 Gorkha Territorial Administration executive members including chief executive Bimal Gurung resigned en masse from their posts on Friday morning and vowed not to let GTA elections happen, which was slated in July.
All the agitating Gorkha parties have fixed June 29 as the date of next all-party meeting and will burn the GTA accord on June 27 as a symbolic protest against the state government.
Speaking to media at GJM party office in Patlebas here on Friday, the GJM supremo dared the police to arrest him. "I am not Kishenji. Come and arrest me if you can. I am here. We will go for one point agenda and that is Gorkhaland. We won't let elections happen. I will die but not let the indefinite strike stop. There will be dharnas and fast-unto-death from now on," he said.
Kishenji alias Maloujula Koteswara Rao was the Maoist leader who was killed in an encounter in 2011 after ascendance of Mamata Banerjee to power, thus bringing down the curtains on 3 years of Maoist insurgency in Jangalmahal area in western West Bengal.
The GJM supremo also demanded CBI inquiry into the alleged police firing that killed 3 GJM activists on June 17. "No shots were fired from our side. Police killed three of our supporters. There must be CBI enquiry and SP has to be accountable," he added.
The move came a day after it came to light that West Bengal police had booked Gurung, his wife Asha Gurung and 24 mid-level GJM leaders in murder case for death of 3 GJM activists in police firing on June 17.
Responding to Gurung's statement, North Bengal development minister Goutam Deb said: "We know Bimal Gurung is not Kishenji. But the strike he is carrying on is unconstitutional. There is scope for discussion but the anarchism unleashed by GJM is not acceptable. We will isolate them both politically and by means of administration."
Meanwhile, the complete shutdown since June 15 was relaxed on Friday for 12 hours only for students of boarding schools who were allowed to leave for Siliguri in school buses. However, parents were not allowed to come and pick up their children from the hills and commoners were not allowed to board the school buses to leave for Siliguri. An estimated 2,000 students from around 56 boarding schools in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts went down to Siliguri as their monsoon vacation started on Friday. The vacation is slated to end on July 3 but holidays are likely to extend if the agitation continues.
On the other hand, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) spokesperson Neeraj Zimba Tamang upheld the leadership of Bimal Gurung in the current phase of Gorkhaland agitation. Speaking at a press conference here on Friday, he said:"We accept his leadership because he has the mandate of the people. The next all-party meeting will be held on June 29 and GTA Accord would be burnt on June 27," he said.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Secretariat Nabanna has sent a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh protesting against Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling supporting the Gorkhaland statehood movement. "Chief minister of a state supporting secessionist movement of a neighbouring state is unconstitutional and undermines the federal structure of our country. We are keeping all our efforts to keep National Highway 10 from Siliguri to Gangtok open so that essential supplies continue reaching Sikkim despite complete shutdown of Darjeeling hills," the letter read.
On the other hand, angry tourists and locals staged a dharna at Sikkim National Transport (SNT) bus terminus in Siliguri against a notice asking tourists not to visit Sikkim due to ongoing shutdown of Darjeeling hills.
Responding to the ongoing cauldron in Darjeeling hills, Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP national general secretary and observer of West Bengal said: "Only Mamata Banerjee is responsible for the situation in Darjeeling hills by curbing the rights of GTA. However, we are not in support of Gorkhaland but we respect the rights and culture of the people."