Roshan Giri, Bimal Gurung, Shibu Soren and his son Hemant in Darjeeling on Friday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, June 15: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders today met Shibu Soren, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief and well-known tribal leader, to boost the hill party’s appeal to those adivasis in the Dooars and Terai who are averse to the demand for statehood.
The meeting was held hours before a Morcha delegation was scheduled to leave for Calcutta this evening for talks with the Bengal government tomorrow on the Justice Shyamal Sen committee report.
The Morcha hopes that its association with the JMM will act as a bargaining point at the Calcutta meeting. The hill party has been under pressure since June 9 to revive its statehood agitation after it was revealed that the Justice Shyamal Sen committee had included only five mouzas in the Gorkha Territorial Administration area, against the Morcha’s demand of 396.
The Morcha had termed the recommendations “unjust, insulting and humiliating”. Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today said: “If the interest of the Gorkhas and the adivasis of Darjeeling, Terai and the Dooars are not looked after by the state government, the statehood agitation will have to be renewed. We have requested Shibu Soren and his party to support us in our demand. They will reach out to the adivasi people in the Dooars and Terai and will talk on the issue.”
Soren, who was the face of the Jharkhand statehood struggle, and his party leaders, including son Hemant, spoke to Gurung and his team for more than an hour in Darjeeling.
“We discussed the political developments in the state and the region. We have decided to extend all possible political support (to the party). We have the experience of being able to carve out a separate state of Jharkhand,” Soren said.
The Morcha has been facing opposition from some adivasi outfits in the Dooars and Terai on the issue of statehood. The Morcha does not hope much will come out of tomorrow’s meeting in Calcutta.
Hemant, the deputy chief minister of Jharkhand, who spoke after the meeting said he did not think the interest of the Gorkhas and adivasis would be addressed at the meeting at Writers’ Buildings. “I do not think that any decision in the interests of the Gorkhas and the adivasis would be taken in tomorrow’s meeting. We are now ready to fight together in the interest of the Gorkhas and adivasis and our state committee will co-ordinate (with the hill party) and announce its agitation in the days to come.,” Hemant said.
“We know that the fight for statehood is difficult but we have formed a new platform today. If we fight together we can get better results,” he said.
John Barla, an adivasi leader from Dooars who is supporting the Morcha’s demand for inclusion of plains in the GTA, said: “I have no hope of the meeting being fruitful.”
Three adivasi representatives will be part of the 21-member Morcha delegation to Calcutta. It will be led by party general secretary Roshan Giri.