Aug. 22: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it would continue with its strike following the arrest of Binay Tamang, one of the party’s senior leaders, last night.
The arrest signalled the resolve of the state government to act tough as long as the Morcha remains adamant on the strike, a Writers’ official said today. “As long as the hill strike continues, we will continue to exert pressure on the hill leadership through administrative measures,” the official said.
Tamang, a Gurung confidant, is the assistant general secretary of the Morcha and a GTA Sabha member.
Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today said the strike, which was supposed to be relaxed from August 24 onwards, would continue.
“There will be no relaxation on Saturday and Sunday and the agitation will go on continuously,” Gurung told a crowd at the Darjeeling Motor Stand. “The closure will continue for an indefinite period, until the state government stops its conspiracy and releases the elected GTA Sabha members.”
According to announcements made by the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee earlier, the present shutdown was to have ended on Saturday. From August 24-30, torch rallies were to be held and human chains were to be organised.
After today’s announcement by Gurung, there is now uncertainty if residential schools in the hills would open.
Leaders of the committee — a conglomeration of seven hill outfits besides the Morcha that was leading the protests — said it was not aware of Gurung’s decision to continue the strike but sources said the other constituents would co-ordinate with the Morcha.
Tamang has been arrested for his alleged role in the Sibchu firing case of February 2011. He has been charged with rioting with deadly weapon, obstruction of a government official from discharging duty, wrongful restraint and causing damage to public property.
The other cases relate to blocking of a national highway on February 9 and 12 this year and on July 29, also this year.
Gurung today announced several modes of protest.
He said all arrested Morcha activists, now numbering around 700, would start an indefinite hunger strikes in the three correctional homes in Darjeeling Kalimpong and Kurseong. The Morcha chief said people must come out and protest when the CRPF raid any locality and gherao police stations every day.
Satish Pokhrel, a GTA Sabha member, was also arrested with Tamang. While Tamang said he was arrested from Gangtok in Sikkim, police said he was arrested at the Bengal-Sikkim border. He was brought to Kalimpong police station with Pokhrel at 3am today. They were produced in court around 7am.
Forty Morcha activists were also arrested last night from various places in the hills. Ten GTA members are behind bars.
Gurung told the crowd at the Darjeeling Motor Stand: “Even if one Bimal Gurung is arrested, there will be 10 Bimal Gurungs to lead this movement as this is a people’s movement.
“If the paramilitary forces and the police come to arrest our supporters, all villagers must come out on the streets at that very moment to protest the arrests.”
The Morcha leader also “requested” police personnel and members of the village police to refrain from identifying houses of Morcha activists as “Gorkhland is also your demand”.