|Children attend the meeting addressed by Bimal Gurung( right) at Malidhura on Sunday. Pictures by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Aug. 25: Bimal Gurung today urged school students to take out rallies in Darjeeling for five days from August 27 for the separate state, though other constituents of the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee decided in principle to keep education out of the ambit of the current agitation.
Although the rallies will be organised under the banner of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for five days, Gurung’s call to the children, aged between 12 and 18 years, to hit the streets will be a blow to education in the hills.
Schools in the hills have been closed for most of the days since July 29.
The Morcha president today interacted with more than 2,000 students in the age group of 12-18 years at Malidhura, 5km from here, and also asked them to be active on social media to advocate the statehood cause.
Even though the media was denied entry into the meeting, a source, who was present at Malidhura, quoted Gurung as saying: “Many students come to me and want to know about the present agitation. I decided to interact with students between the age group of 12 and 18 to make them aware of the demand.”
Gurung, added: “Once you reach college, your focus will be on completing your studies and getting jobs. At this age (12-18), you can completely focus on the statehood demand. So, you take out rallies in favour of a new state for five days from August 27. ”
The Morcha leader has asked the students to hold rallies for five days from August 27. “The party’s local unit leaders must take up the responsibility of arranging for vehicles to bring the students for the rallies. The students should also give deputation to the district magistrate and also write to the prime minister and other national leaders about the Gorkhaland demand.”
Gurung also urged the young crowd to actively advocate the statehood issue on social media. “Do not idle your time away. I am sure most of you are on Facebook and you should advocate the issue through Facebook.”
Leaders who are part of the Joint Action Committee, however, said the forum had “more or less” decided to keep the educational institutions out of future agitation. “At the committee’s meeting on August 18, we more or less decided to keep the educational institutions out of the agitation’s purview. However, the decision has not been announced and the members might make it public after the committee sits for another round of meeting on August 30,” said a leader of the committee.
The action committee is a conglomeration of eight organisations, including the Morcha, formed to fight jointly for Gorkhaland.
There are indications that the Morcha might not ask the students to be on the streets for an indefinite period. “This is probably the reason why Gurung said the rallies would be held only for five days,” said an observer.
The Morcha’s decision has evoked mixed response from stakeholders of the education sector. “Since the party has directly addressed the students and they seem to have attended the meeting with consent from their parents, we have nothing to say in this regard,” said an educationist.
In previous years also, the Morcha’s student front had gathered children in school uniform at various rallies.
Mukul on agitation
Trinamul all-India general secretary and MP Mukul Roy said in Calcutta on Sunday that those who were trying to create disturbances in the hills would be alienated from the people. “People in the hills want peace. Those who are trying to create disturbances will be alienated from the people in the coming days. The people of the hills are with Mamata Banerjee. They don't have any faith in GJM (Gorkha Janmukti Morcha,” Roy said.