Gorkhaland activists start war of signboards

October 17th, 2008 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri (West Bengal), Oct 17 (IANS) Activists of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), fighting for a separate state in northern part of West Bengal, Friday pasted ‘Gorkhaland’ on signboards of shops and business establishments in Darjeeling and Kurseong area.The GJM, which had issued a diktat that ‘West Bengal’ should be replaced by ‘Gorkhaland’ on the signboards from Friday, held meetings across the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, exhorting the people to lend support to the latest form of protests.

In Darjeeling town, GJM activists took out a 10,000 strong procession which culminated in a meeting at Chowrasta. GJM president Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri, the party general secretary were the principal speakers.

“We have started the signboard movement Friday. We will intensify it in the coming days. We are appealing to the people to remove ‘West Bengal’ from the signboards and instead write ‘Gorkhaland’. If some people do not heed to our request, our workers will do the needful,” said GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang.

But fresh confrontation is brewing over the GJM’S order that all vehicles plying in the Darjeeling sub-division (comprising the hill areas of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong) would have to bear nameplates beginning with GL (Gorkhaland) instead of WB (West Bengal).

The Communist Party of India - Marxist’s (CPI-M)’s labour wing Centre for Trade Unions (CITU) has demanded that the Darjeeling district administration take appropriate action to thwart the GJM’s “evil designs” within the next three days.

“If the district administration fails to stop the GJM activists from replacing WB with GL, then we will not allow a single vehicle - be it bus, taxi, private car or truck - to move from the plains to the hills from Oct 22,” said CITU Darjeeling district secretariat member Ajay Chakraborty.

The GJM had earlier asked people not to pay taxes to the government and telephone bills to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and electricity charges to West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB).

The total dues on these counts have already crossed Rs.150 million.

The GJM, besides spearheading the movement in the hills for a separate Gorkhaland state, is also opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that offers greater autonomy to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

A round of tripartite talks held in Delhi following the GJM’S demand, has been inconclusive.

The party had also organised an indefinite shutdown in the hills twice in June and July over its Gorkhaland demand, severely hitting industry and tourism - the bread and butter of the region.

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