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Plains outfit protests Delhi meeting

Siliguri, April 9: The Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee today set up a blockade here for more than 30 minutes to protest the meeting in Delhi between the Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the proposed interim set-up for the hills.

“Whether it is the issue of granting autonomy or statehood to the hills, it is related to Bengal. We condemn the way the Centre is trying to impose its decision on the state’s residents by overlooking their protests and holding frequent talks with the Morcha,” said Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the Bhasha Committee, an apolitical outfit opposed to Gorkhaland.

The Bhasha Committee members in a procession reached Panitanki More on Sevoke Road around 11.30am. Soon, they blocked the road, protesting the meeting and the alleged attack by Morcha supporters on some residents of Malbazar on Tuesday. The blockade continued for 30 minutes after which they burnt an effigy of Morcha president Bimal Gurung and dispersed.

“How can the Centre turn blind to the atrocities and violence unleashed by the Morcha leadership in the hills and sit with them across the table? We want to make it clear that under no circumstances can the Terai, Siliguri or the Dooars be included in the so-called interim set-up,” Majumdar said.

The Bhasha Committee proposed the bifurcation of the existing Darjeeling district into two. “The three hill subdivisions could form the new Darjeeling district, while Siliguri and the rest can be the new Siliguri district,” said Majumdar.

Morcha leaders have come down heavily on the Bhasha Committee’s protest. “Such activities (protests) are aimed to derail the talks,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha. “These outfits are always creating tension and rift between the hills and plains but they will not succeed in their intention.”

The CPM said it did not believe in statehood, but at the same time was reluctant to comment on the divide-district proposal. “Given the present state of affairs and progress that has been made to form an administrative set-up for the hills, we prefer not to comment on this proposal (of the Bhasha Committee),” said a CPM leader.

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