Gorkha party calls shutdown in Darjeeling hills

April 9th, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, April 9 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), demanding separate statehood for Darjeeling, has called a daylong shutdown in the hills Thursday, to protest police baton charge on its activists during what it called a peaceful rally in Siliguri Wednesday. “We have called a 24-hour shutdown on Thursday, protesting a baton charge by the police on our peaceful rally in Siliguri. We condemn the atrocious act of the police who stopped the procession from entering Siliguri,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told IANS.

Giri said: “About 16 GJM supporters were injured and over 40 activists were arrested. We demand an immediate enquiry into the case.”

GJM supporters, led by Bimal Gurung, want complete statehood for Darjeeling in north Bengal instead of a Sixth Schedule status that has granted greater autonomy for the region since 2005.

“The 24-hour shutdown call is also supported by Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP) and Greater Cooch-Behar Democratic Party - two important political forces in the hills,” he said.

“We will cripple normal life in the hills and will also see that no government offices are open,” Bimal Gurung said.

Gurung, president of GJM, was expelled from Subash Ghisingh’s Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) for “anti-party” activities.

The central government in 2005 announced Sixth Schedule status to the GNLF-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), which ensures greater autonomy to the governing body. GNLF was the principal political force in hills till GJM emerged.

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