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GJM protests intensify, other communities also raise demand for Gorkhaland

Around 2,000 Muslims who identified themselves as Gorkha Muslims took out a protest march

Avishek Rakshit  |  Darjeeling 

The demand for Gorkhaland has crossed ethnic boundaries. and a part of the Rajasthani population have joined in to demand a separate statehood for the Darjeeling Hills, amid larger protests led by the (GJM). 

Around 2,000 who identified themselves as Gorkha on Sunday took out a protest march holding placards which read “We want Gorkhaland and we support Bimal Gurung”, indicating their support to the GJM’s call for Gorkhaland. has been demanding to carve out a separate state for the ethnic Gorkha and Lepcha population in northern West Bengal.

“We support the issue and demand for Gorkhaland. The who numbered around 20,000-25,000 here identified themselves as Gorkha and live here peacefully. We have been living here for generations and do not face any problems with the Gorkhas,” Mustaq Usmani, a local businessman who was participating in the protest march, said.

The Muslims, in line with the MLA from Darjeeling, Amar Singh Rai, are of the view that the state government has failed to address the local problems of infrastructure, education and health in the hilly terrain and has mishandled the current situation.

“The situation could have been handled in a more peaceful way. By sending the police, the paramilitary and the army, the state government is trying to intimidate the local population and present a political movement as a law and order situation,” Rai said.

Adding, “I appeal to the chief minister to handle the ongoing situation in a better way.”

West Bengal Chief Minister on Saturday claimed that has links with terror organisations based in North-east India. Rai termed the claim as “laughable”. 

Rai, who is a senior leader, said that his party is open to talks with the Centre with two preconditions. First, wants the security forces deployed throughout Darjeeling to be withdrawn and the sole discussion point has to be the creation of Gorkhaland. 

He said the state government can also be part of these talks if these preconditions are met. 

“This time we will not settle for anything else than full-fledged statehood and will not consider the creation of any autonomous body like the GTA or its predecessor,” he told Business Standard.

However, like the state government, the is also unhappy with the Narendra Modi-led BJP government's stance.

“Two times, we elected BJP representatives thinking they would help us with the demand for Gorkhaland. But we are just pawns in the hands of the Centre and are absolutely not happy with the Centre’s role in the present situation,” Rai said.

He opined that the state government first made the major blunder by announcing “Bengali as a compulsory language, under did not clear her stance thereafter” and then mishandled the situation as it escalated.” Although Banerjee had clarified that Bengali is an optional language in the Hills, wants it as a Cabinet resolution.

Following the alleged death of three activists, the political party on Sunday took out a march carrying black flags while crying “Jai Gorkha”.

Till late afternoon, except for some stray incidents in Doors, no major incident took place in the Hills.

Unlike previous days, the police did not stop any protest march as the took a peace procession in Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling carrying their falling comrades. On Saturday, the claimed that the police had shot down three of their activists while the state administration refuted the claim. A senior officer from the IRB second battalion was also seriously injured and is battling for life.

After chief started sending video messages from his unknown hideout, the internet connectivity in the Hills was snapped due to unknown reasons.