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Apolitical forums take up Gorkhaland cause

‘Silence’ of political parties on statehood triggers new trend in hills
The seminar on Gorkhaland organised by Citizen’s Forum in Darjeeling on Tuesday
The seminar on Gorkhaland organised by Citizen’s Forum in Darjeeling on Tuesday
Sourced by The Telegraph

Vivek Chhetri   |   Darjeeling   |   Published 11.05.22, 01:37 AM

Apolitical forums in the hills are now raking up the Gorkhaland demand in Darjeeling.

After the statehood agitation of 2017 — in which 13 people were killed, including two police personnel — no major political party has actively taken up this issue.


On Tuesday, the newly formed Citizen's Forum held a seminar titled “Roadmap to Gorkhaland '' at the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan(GDNS) hall, which was packed to the brim for full five hour s.

The list of panellists included Trilok Dewan, the former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh and former Darjeeling MLA; Mahendra P. Lama, founding vice-chancellor of Sikkim University; R.B.Rai, two-time Darjeeling MP and president of the CPRM; Prabhakar Dewan, a lawyer; and Swaraj Thapa, former journalist.

Political personality Raju Pradhan, who recently quit the BJP, and is part of the Citizen's Forum, said: “There is a need for this kind of a seminar is because of the doings of the political parties (allegedly silent on Gorkhaland). We will now breathe down the necks of political parties.”

“It is precisely because there is silence on the statehood demand that we have formed a new forum and held this seminar,” said Swaraj Thapa, who also quit BJP recently and said he felt he could work for the statehood demand more effectively from outside.

Pradhan stated that they would start statehood demand-centric activities across the country, not just Darjeeling.

Of late, a number of apolitical forums started raising the statehood issue.

A few days back, the apolitical Gorkhaland Activist Samuha organised a seminar on Gorkhaland in Darjeeling and a three-day dharna at Gorkhaland in December.

Similarly, apolitical Statehood Demand Coordination Committee held a seminar in Kalimpong recently.

Even though Citizen’s Forum presented an apolitical face, it had many with a political past. Most prominent faces were earlier associated with the Bimal Gurung camp of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Pradhan, Thapa and Trilok Dewan were at one time with Gurung. Prakash Gurung, who recently quit as president of Gurung’s youth wing, and Yogendra Rai, former Sabha member of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration were present on the dais.

Mahendra P. Lama had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Darjeeling.

“It needs to be seen whether the Citizen’s Forum remains strictly apolitical," said an observer.

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