Former soldiers from Darjeeling at a meeting in February. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, March 3: Legendary defenders of Indias borders are suddenly crying Delhi chalo. But all that the Gorkha war veterans want is a home state of their own.
Hundreds of former soldiers from the hills are headed for the capital to hold a rally for a Gorkhaland state at Jantar Mantar on March 5.
They have threatened that if their demand is not met, they will surrender their army medals to the President.
The members of the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha, formed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha last month, have been leaving the hills quietly in groups of 10 to 20 over the past couple of days. The first batch was expected to reach Delhi late tonight.
About 325 Gorkha warriors will take part in the rally. But the war will be fought without guns, said Roshan Giri, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha general secretary.
Some Gorkhas from other regions such as Dehra Dun, too, are expected at the event. A seven-member team headed by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung took a flight to Delhi today.
I plan to address the rally, Gurung said.
The veteran soldiers pooled their own resources to fund the trip.
The Delhi branch of the (Gorkha soldiers) association is trying to seek permission to hold a couple of more rallies in the capital, said Binay Tamang, press and publicity secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
The ex-servicemen had been used by Gorkha National Liberation Front chief Subash Ghisingh to threaten the Centre and Bengal government during the Gorkhaland agitation of the eighties. But they switched allegiance to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on February 13.
At a meeting that day, nearly 1,000 former soldiers decided to form a new organisation to fight for Gorkhaland.
It nominated Gurung as its patron. The hills are home to some 40,000 former soldiers.