The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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GNLF refuses to budge from bandh
- Cry for khukuri stab justice

Darjeeling, Nov. 25: Uneasy calm prevails in the Darjeeling hills with the GNLF making it clear that it will not withdraw its indefinite strike called to protest against the attack on one of its leaders on Friday.

“Unless Bimal Gurung and 21 others involved in the assault on Kul Bahadur Gurung are arrested, we will carry on with our shutdown. However, the cinchona plantations and the tea gardens will be kept out of the bandh’s purview,” said Deepak Gurung, president, GNLF Darjeeling Branch Committee.

Raids are on and eight more people were arrested today apart from Shiva Rai and Bijay Lama, who were picked up in the past two days.

Expelled GNLF leader Bimal Gurung, who had floated the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha more than a month ago, has denied his party’s role in the attack. Instead, Binay Tamang, the press and publicity secretary of the Morcha, had claimed that the attack was a fallout of a feud within the GNLF. “We have been saying in various public meetings that the GNLF will attack its own leaders to malign our image and today’s (read Friday) incident has proved us right,” Tamang had said.

Morcha supporter Karna Bahadur Khawas, who owes his life to constable Bijay Prasad, lies in his bed in the Kalimpong subdivisional hospital. Khawas needed blood after he received a khukuri wound on Friday and Prasad volunteered to donate it. “I will forever remain indebted to him,” said Khawas. Picture by Chinlop Fudong Lepcha

A five-member delegation led by K.S. Ramudamu, the vice-president of the Morcha, today met BJP leader L.K. Advani in Delhi. “We have told Advani that we refuse to accept the Sixth Schedule status for the hills and that only a separate state of Gorkhaland can fulfil our aspirations,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha over phone from Delhi.

The party today withdrew its programme of ensuring the closure of all DGHC offices till December 7, the day the winter session of Parliament ends. “We took this decision keeping in mind the question of peace in the hills. However, the DGHC must stop issuing work orders without floating proper tenders. If they continue to do so, we might re-start our agitation,” said Bimal Gurung.

The stand-off between the two parties had been expected for quite sometime, especially after the bill on the Sixth Schedule was included in Parliament’s winter list of business. The Morcha is against the special status, a GNLF trump card, and had been trying to garner support for Gorkhaland.

On Friday, after the attack on Kul Bhadur trickled in and the GNLF and Morcha supporters got ready for a face-off, the administration imposed Section 144 in the tourist hub. The incident brought back memories of the Gorkhaland agitation of the eighties. The army was called in and has been kept on standby since then. Section 144 was lifted at 8pm today.

The CPRM, a member of the People’s Democratic Front, an anti-Subash Ghisingh coalition in the hills, has appealed to all parties to “end the politics of violence”.

Tamang alleged that the administration, which has stopped the Morcha from bringing out a rally in town (as Section 144 has been imposed), had permitted the GNLF to go-ahead a khukuri procession in Kurseong yesterday. “The administration must act impartially,” he said.

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