School students on hunger strike for Gorkhaland demand

June 27th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 27 (IANS) Hundreds of schoolchildren participated in a relay hunger strike in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district to press for a separate Gorkhaland state. Several Gorkha students, studying in classes V to XII, started the hunger strike Thursday afternoon under the banner of Gorkha Janavidyarthi Morcha - the students wing of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM, which is agitating for a separate state for the Darjeeling Hills..

“Students divided in different groups started the relay hunger strike in front of the government offices across three hill sub-divisions - Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. Each student will continue the strike for 24 hours and then the student will be replaced by another student,” said Kishman Chetri, Gorkha Janavidyarthi Morcha president and GJM’s central committee member.

He said the GJM’s student wing will also take out rallies across the hills over the same demand.

“There are talks going on in Kolkata and Delhi between senior GJM leaders and the central and state leaderships. But we want a positive solution to the discussion and our demand is Gorkhaland,” said Chetri.

He said that students are divided in 60-member groups and they sit on the relay hunger strike in front of the Darjeeling district magistrate’s office, and the offices of the sub-divisional officers (SDO) in Kurseong and Kalimpong.

Many students also staged the hunger strike at Malbazar, Bagrakot, Elenbari, Manabari and Patharjhora tea garden areas in the district.

A four-member delegation of the GJM, demanding Gorkhaland, is now in the city for talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee at the state secretariat Friday evening.

The GJM, led by Bimal Gurung, seeking a separate state, is also opposed to the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that ensures greater autonomy to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

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