Siliguri, March 17: Around 100 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha workers and leaders from Kurseong subdivision, mostly tea garden hands, and the hill party’s trade union front joined the GNLF today.
“We had joined the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, the trade union front of the Morcha, with the aspiration that our longstanding demands, including giving land rights to garden workers, would be met. I was made a vice-president of the union but made to sit idle. No meetings, activity or movements were taken up to address the issues of the tea workers,” said Saran Khawas, a vice-president of the Morcha union.
Khawas and 30 other union workers joined the GNLF in Kothidara near Kurseong town today.
“We intend to work under the Himalayan Plantation Workers’ Union (GNLF’s trade union front). It has the record of taking up workers’ issues with the state government, planters and other authorities. The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union has only worked to revise the workers’ wages back in 2011. Since then, there has not been any activity in the hills. Other workers and Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union leaders across the hills are also frustrated and will soon join the GNLF,” he said.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “We will try to find out if our supporters have joined any other party.”
In Sukna, 10km from here, around 25 Morcha workers joined the GNLF, Subash Ghisingh’s party that has lost its clout in the hills since the Morcha started gaining strength.
“Many Morcha supporters are disappointed over the silence of the leaders who seem to be satisfied with the GTA and are not keen on going ahead with the demand for a separate state. We spoke to the disgruntled people and they could understand that it is better to have a Sixth Schedule status for the hills,” said GNLF leader Tshering Dahal. “Around 25 people joined us today which has helped us revive the Gorkha National Women Organisation. We formed the Sukna unit of the front today and soon more women will join.”
In Garidhura, 17km from here, over 50 Morcha workers joined the GNLF.
“We are utterly disappointed as the leaders are not taking up any movement for our principal demand of a separate state. They are preoccupied with the GTA. Even the GTA is not functioning well because of the rising differences between Morcha leaders and the state government,” said Kishore Chhetri, a Morcha worker who joined the GNLF.