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Morcha ‘peaceful’ protests, from Delhi to Darjeeling
Talks team disclosure on March 15

Kalimpong, March 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today announced a number of “peaceful” programmes — starting with one in Delhi — in the lead-up to the fifth round of tripartite talks, but deferred a decision on the composition of the team that would represent the party at the political-level meeting.

“The names of the delegation members will be revealed on March 15. The party president (Bimal Gurung) has indicated that the delegation will not be a big one,” said Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri at Deolo, 5km from here.

Binay Tamang, the Morcha’s assistant secretary who briefed the media along with Chhetri, said the secret proposal the party had sent to the Centre would also be revealed in Deolo the same day.

“Members of the party’s frontal organisations from the hills, the Dooars and Terai and Siliguri will be present on the occasion,” he added.

Morcha sources had earlier said the secret proposal was a climbdown and would exclude the Dooars and Terai and Siliguri from the party’s current geographical definition of “Gorkhaland”.

However, party supporters from the Dooars and Terai, Siliguri will join those from the Darjeeling hills, north-eastern states, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand at a three-day dharna in the national capital from March 16, the day the new agitation programme begins. The party expects over a thousand participants in the dharna. A similar dharna will be held in Calcutta too.

The Morcha has asked its zonal committees to recommend names for the Delhi dharna, but said members would have to bear their own transport fares. The accommodation and meals would be free.

The leadership, Gurung in particular, has been touring the hills, reorganising the party structure. Sources in the Morcha said at least 40 party zones have been created in the hills so far. Asked how many people from the hills would travel to Delhi, a central committee member indicated that the party was expecting anything between 400 and 500.

The Morcha will also organise mass rallies in the hills on March 17 and March 18, and in the Dooars and Terai and Siliguri on March 18. “We have also decided to withdraw our jail bharo agitation from tomorrow,” said Tamang. This was being done, he said, following the release of 12 women of the 18 arrested in connection with the burning of a police outpost in Sukna.

“The remaining six are expected to be released at the next hearing,” he said. The case was heard today at the Darjeeling session’s court.

The 18 were arrested on February 21 when a mob laid siege to the outpost demanding that a youth, accused of murdering a woman from Sikkim, be bought in front of them from Pradhannagar police station in Siliguri. The mob then set fire to the outpost.

Chhetri admitted that the party had tried to pass off yesterday’s incident when Gurung tried to end his life as “rumours” to ensure there was no breakdown in the law and order situation.

“The incident definitely happened. It is also true that the president had in the past said he would end his life by March 10, 2010, and was emotionally carried away. The president wanted to prove that he was honest and spoke what he believed in, and not to fool people,” he said.

The Telegraph reported today how Gurung in the middle of his speech at Leechi Ground expressed his “remorse” for not being able to realise his vision and walked towards a table on the middle of the dais and tried to open a suitcase kept on it. However, before he could open the box, one of his bodyguards snatched it from him. “I only want to put one bullet through my head,” Gurung had said.

As around 500 people gasped and some screamed, Gurung returned to the microphone and continued his speech. “I am having a strange feeling,” he said. When Gurung was through with his speech, Tamang took the microphone and promised to ensure the safety of Gurung, as the audience shouted “Jai Gorkhaland” and “Jai Bimal Gurung”.

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