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Hill outfit to file bandh PIL

Darjeeling, Feb. 18: An anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha outfit has said it will file a PIL against the latest round of strikes and bandhs declared by Bimal Gurung that would “only serve to harass the common public”.

If the general secretary of the People’s Forum, Pravin Gurung, does go to court, it will be the first time in the hills that any person or outfit took legal recourse against any shutdown called on the sensitive issue of Gorkhaland.

Pravin Gurung today said: “Everybody in the hills is in favour of Gorkhaland, but in the past we have seen that the closure of government offices and the general strikes only serve to harass the common public without yielding any positive results.”

He added: “I have consulted my lawyers in Calcutta and we have decided to file a PIL against the closure of government offices and strikes in the high court this week.”

The Peoples’ Forum said the strikes would not only inconvenience students appearing for various board examinations but also hamper tourism which is the backbone of the hill economy.

The 48-hour bandhs — on March 14-15 and March 21-22 — and a government office strike from March 9-27 could directly affect the HS examinations scheduled to be held between March 13 and 26, though the Morcha has said it will keep the examination calendar in mind. Madhyamik begins on February 25, while the ICSE and ISC exams are scheduled to start on February 27. The examination papers are usually sent by boards in advance and kept either in the treasury office or in bank vaults.

A Morcha leader said: “We will definitely exempt all examination-related departments from our agitation.”

The CPRM and the ABGL, two hill parties opposed to the Morcha, said Bimal Gurung’s party should pursue the statehood issue seriously, instead of causing harassment to the common people.

“The biggest hurdle to the creation of Gorkhaland is the GTA Sabha. The real agitation would be for all 45 elected Morcha members to resign from the GTA. Demanding Gorkhaland while staying in power at the GTA is only an eyewash,” said Pratap Khati, the general secretary of the ABGL. CPRM spokesperson Gobind Chhetri said: “If they are true to the Gorkhaland cause, they should resign from the GTA before going on agitation.”

Reacting to the rivals’ charge, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “These opposition parties are against the formation of the state and that explains why they are opposing the agitation.”

Giri said: “Only today, we received a letter from Sonia Gandhi, where she has acknowledged receiving a letter written by our party president on January 21 demanding Gorkhaland. The letter, written on February 6 states ‘I have noted the contents (of Gurung’s letter)’. It is a proof our party has been able to bring the demand to the notice of all national leaders.”


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