The movement for a separate Telangana state has added fuel to the Gorkhaland movement in the Darjeeling Hills. The movement for a separate Gorkhaland has been simmering in the hills for quite some time. Vijay Madan, interlocutor of the Centre, has recently met the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders at Darjeeling and discussed the issue with them.
A tripartite meeting will be held in Delhi on December 21 to take this forward. But the sudden development of Telangana has changed everything. Now, the GJM leaders have decided to seize the opportunity and announced a mass movement to press for their demand. Bimal Gurung, the president of GJM, said today that they would begin an indefinite hunger strike from tomorrow at Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, the three sub-divisional towns in the hills and Siliguri and Dooars. Also, the GJM has given a call for a 96-hour bandh from December 14 in the Darjeeling Hills.
According to the GJM leaders, if the Centre considers statehood for Telangana region, then they don’t see why the same could not be given to their proposed Gorkhaland area.
The sudden development in the hills has its immediate repercussions in the adjacent plains. In Siliguri and part of Dooars, people in the plains have been mobilised under the banner of Bangla Bhasa Banchao Committee (Committee to Save Bangla Language) and frequently involved in violent clash with the GJM activists.
The tribals under the banner of Adivasi Vikash Parishad also resisted the GJM workers in the Dooars area.
The state administration is apprehensive that the aggressive posturing of the GJM might give rise to the growing tension between the hill people and the rest, thus creating serious law and order problems.
Politically, this has put the state government on the backfoot. The state government has been advocating that the question of further dividing the state does not arise.
But the UPA government’s handling of the Telangana movement has on the one hand boosted the morale of the GJM activists, and pushed the Left Front government in an uneasy position.