Nov. 4: The GNLF has withdrawn the 48-hour bandh in the hills that was supposed to have started from Tuesday. The party, however, has warned people to be ready for 72-hour and 108-hour shutdowns after Diwali.
“We withdrew the strike keeping in mind the festival later this week. But the public should be ready for either a 72-hour or an 108-hour bandhs in the hills. We may also call for a 40-day shutdown,” said I.N. Pradhan, the Kurseong branch president of the GNLF, at a public meeting in Mirik.
The bandh had been planned to pressure the Centre into passing the Sixth Schedule bill in Parliament in the coming winter session. Had the GNLF gone ahead with its plan, it would have clashed with the 15-day Lal Kothi gherao planned by the newly formed Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling starting from November 7.
Since its formation by former GNLF leader Bimal Gurung, the Janmukti Morcha has been trying to garner support for Gorkhaland instead of the Sixth Schedule. The party has been successful in drawing large crowds to its meetings.
The GNLF on the other hand has been holding public meetings at various places to explain the benefits of the Sixth Schedule status to the people.
Binay Tamang, the press and publicity secretary of the Janmukti Morcha, claimed that Subash Ghisingh’s party withdrew the bandh because they had lost public support. “The people are not with them. They (GNLF) understood that. We, however, will go ahead with our agitation,” said Tamang in Darjeeling.
In the same hill town, the Legal Awareness Forum today adopted a resolution “to bring forth the true interpretation of the special status”. All the 35 lawyers present claimed that the Sixth Schedule status would neither fulfill the aspiration of the Gorkha community nor guarantee equal rights to the people.
The resolution states that though the Union cabinet has approved the special status, the people are not aware of the provisions in the bill. The lawyers have questioned the motive behind keeping the details of the draft under wraps.
Another group of lawyers have described the resolution as a “doctored propaganda” and questioned the formation of the forum “They say it was an apolitical forum but the members were selectively invited,” said Noella Edwards, a lawyer. She said had it been an open discussion, the arguments of the forum would have been countered point by point.