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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 April 2024

Statehood demand: A dharna in Kalimpong & meeting in Delhi

Neither the BJP not Mamata, however, defined what the solution entails

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 06.12.21, 01:49 AM
After the violent statehood agitation of 2017 was crushed by the Bengal state government, the demand for Gorkhaland went largely silent

After the violent statehood agitation of 2017 was crushed by the Bengal state government, the demand for Gorkhaland went largely silent File photo

A dharna for Gorkhaland was organised in Delhi while another meeting to discuss the same issue was held in Kalimpong on Sunday, slowly reviving the demand for statehood that had largely gone silent in these last four years.

Gorkhaland Activist Samuha, a newly formed group, started its three-day dharna on Gorkhaland at the Jantar Mantar from Sunday.
The Statehood Demand Coordination Committee, an apolitical body formed in 2020, held a seminar on the issue in Kalimpong.

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After the violent statehood agitation of 2017 in which 13 people were killed including two police personnel, was crushed by the Bengal state government, the demand for Gorkhaland went largely silent.

The then splinter group of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha formed by Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa then decided to join hands with Trinamul which has always been opposed to any further division of Bengal.

In October 2020, Bimal Gurung, the founder president of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, resurfaced for the first time after 2017 and also joined hands with Trinamul.
“Such was the situation that during the Assembly election earlier this year, no prominent hill party could raise the statehood issue during the campaign,” said a hill observer.
The situation seems to have been changing.

Many in the hills believe that the Centre’s decision to start tripartite talks on “Gorkha issues” provided a new lease of life to the demand. The first round of meeting was held on October 12.

The BJP had promised a “permanent political solution” for the region in their 2019 Lok Sabha election manifesto. Recently, even Mamata Banerjee promised the same for the hills. Neither the BJP not Mamata, however, defined what the solution etails.

Prabhakar Dewan, the spokesman of the SDCC, voiced the uncetainty many in the hills are feeling.
“We are increasingly feeling that the permanent political solutionpromised by both the Centre and state is not separate statehood. This is why we decided to call representative of various organszations to understand the views on the current situation,” Dewan said on Sunday.

The leader believes that the SDCC can play a pivotal role in coordinating with various pro-Gorkhaland groups to push forward the statehood demand.
In Delhi, the Gorkhaland Activist Samuha members said that they had come together to question the Centre over the delay in granting statehood.

Bindhya Dukpa, a leader of the activist group, said: “Narendra Modiji had said that the Gorkhas’ dream is his dream, another senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy had promised Gorkhaland nearly a decade back. Despite the BJP led Centre having understood our demand, why are they not creating Gorkhaland?”

For now, the demand is being raised by fledgling organisations. Prominent parties in the hills, including the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajantrik Morcha, the Gorkha Jannmukti Morcha and the BJP are not explicitly raising the statehood demand at the moment.

“It needs to be seen whether these new organisations can really take forward the Gorkhaland demand given the current stand of political parties in the hills,” said an observer from the hills.

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