Gorkhaland demand finds allies in plains

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 27.03.08
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Darjeeling, March 27: Three separatist groups of north Bengal, including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, have agreed to support each other’s demand and launch a joint movement across the region to put pressure on the state government.

Asutosh Barman, the president of the Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party (GCBDP), and Atul Roy, the president of one faction of the Kamtapuri People’s Party (KPP), met Morcha chief Bimal Gurung at Patlabas in Singmari last evening.

“This was a courtesy visit and we will finalise the details of our joint movement after holding more meetings,” Gurung said today.

The KPP and the GCBDP, which came together to form the Greater Kamta United Forum on October 24, 2006, want to carve out of Bengal a separate state extending from lower Assam to Malda. The Morcha’s proposal for Gorkhaland includes the Darjeeling district, Terai and the Dooars leading right up to the Sankosh river near the Bengal-Assam border.

The leaders of the three parties hastened to allay fears about an apparent clash of interest regarding the territory of the proposed states.

“All we want at the moment is separation from Bengal because this is a question of our identity. We will sit down and chalk out our territories later. It will not be a problem at all,” said Barman.

Roy went a step further and said: “In future, if the situation so demands, we might even agree on a single state comprising the entire area being demanded by the Morcha and us.”

In Siliguri, Bengal urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya criticised the Morcha’s decision to meet the leaders of the separatist movement in the plains.

“We have already said some insurgent groups are out to take advantage of the situation in the hills. Such efforts (meetings) will create trouble. Now it is confirmed that insurgent groups like the KLO and separatist groups like the Greater Cooch Behar are trying to strengthen their own movements by tying up with Morcha leaders,” said the CPM minister.