Shutdown by ethnic Gorkhas haunts Darjeeling Hills again

November 23rd, 2007 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

Darjeeling, Nov 23 (ANI): A four-day shutdown has begun in the Darjeeling Hills over rival claims for a separate homeland for ‘Gorkhas’.
Schools, shops and offices remained closed while public transport was crippled. However, emergency and essential services were exempt.
Rival factions called for a shutdown in pockets of their influence. While one faction is in favour of the inclusion of the hills in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the second is not.
The powerful Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) wants the Darjeeling Hills to be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, while the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM), a breakaway faction of the GNLF, led by Bimal Gurung, opposes the demand.
“We have declared a shutdown and are protesting peacefully. This strike has been successful. The locals are supporting us,” said Lalit Thapa, a GJMM leader.
GNLF launched the agitation for a separate state in 1980 but dropped the demand for Sixth Schedule after New Delhi agreed to confer partial autonomy in 1988 for the Nepalese-speaking people.
An agreement was signed by the Central Government, the State Government of West Bengal and the GNLF paving way for the setting up of the Autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (ADGHC) in 1988.
The State Government in West Bengal has been resisting demands for a separate state to Gorkhas. (ANI)

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