GJM begins fast-unto-death agitation, tribals meet Buddhadeb

January 29th, 2009 - 11:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri/Kolkata, Jan 29 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Thursday launched a ‘fast-unto death’ agitation at Gorubathan in Kalimpong sub-division of West Bengal’s Darjeeling district, to press for permission to hold meetings in the tribal dominated Dooars area. In Kolkata, a 16-member delegation of the tribal Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Bikash Parishad (ABABP) met Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and iterated that the Dooars was an integral part of the state.

The Gorkha agitators are demanding bifurcating West Bengal to create Gorkhaland state, which would also include the Dooars area of Jalpaiguri district.

At Gorubathan, 17 GJM activists, majority of them tribals loyal to the party, began the hunger strike and demanded that the state government take steps to open the 16 closed tea gardens in Jalpaiguri.

“Otherwise, they should hand over the tea gardens to us. We will run them,” said GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang.

“We also want a congenial atmosphere in the Dooars so that we can hold meetings there,” he said.

The chief minister, on the other hand, told the ABABP representatives that the police have been asked to take action irrespective of party affiliation against those involved in the clashes at Malbazar and Nagrakata areas of the Dooars.

“the chief minister appealed for peace in the Dooars and sought ABABP’s cooperation,” said Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty.

ABABP state president Birsa Tirkey said: “We categorically told the chief minister that we don’t support Gorkhaland. We have been living in the Dooars and the Terai for generations. There is no logic behind the GJM demand.”

Dooars in Jalpaiguri district has been on the boil recently due to clashes between the GJM and ABABP activists.

Several people, including police personnel, have been injured in the violence that took place as the ABABP resisted GJM’s bid to make incursions into the Dooars.

The GJM has alleged that ABABP was being patronised by West Bengal’s ruling Left Front partners Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).

The GJM has been leading a movement in the hills for a separate state, and has opposed the devolution of more powers to the hills governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) after the hills witnessed violence for about two years.

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