Darjeeling witnesses fresh clashes between pro and anti Gorkhaland factions<br>UMA KANTA KHANAL in Siliguri, West Bengal

Jan. 23, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. :04 No.-15 Jan. 21-2011 (Magh 07,2067)

The hill district of Darjeeling in West Bengal and peripheral areas have seen fresh clashes erupting between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, a party agitating for Gorkhaland as a separate state for the Indian Gorkhas, and non-Gorkha parties opposed to it.

Cadres of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha are blocking roads in what they call a final agitation for their separate state. The winter chill of Darjeeling has been relegated to the backburner as tires are burnt on the roads sending up plumes of smoke with GJM cadres raising their demands.

But then, as soon as GJM finished its 96 hours strike in Darjeeling and its peripheral areas recently, the opposing Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee commenced a 48 hour strike in Siliguri and other parts of Terai against the GJM. Supporters of the two camps attacked each other causing a dozen injuries. The injured from both sides were admitted at hospitals for treatment. Many vehicles were torched.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha started its fresh agitation because the Gorkha inhabitants of Darjeeling blamed it was going to agree with the central government not for a separate state but for an interim authority, which would be a part of autonomy within the state. The central government and Morcha were nearing an agreement for the interim authority in Darjeeling. But the other political parties demanding Gorkhaland pressurized GJM not to agree with the central government for the interim authority but to lead the agitation for a separate state.

Dawa Sherpa, executive president of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League said, "It is not time to settle with the interim authority because the central and the state governments have been cheating the Gorkhas of India for more than hundred years by not providing their constitutional security."

The ruling party of West Bengal, Communist Party of India (Marxist), has demanded that the administration should discourage the agitation of GJM. It submitted a memorandum to the IGP of North Bengal a few days ago. Saman Pathak, a leader of CPI (M) said, "The agitation of the Morcha is against the public. The public of Darjeeling are deprived of getting food and other necessary materials because of the strike called by GJM. So, we have requested the administration to be strong to dominate its agitation."

Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee has also warned the traders not to provide any materials to the hill. This is a hint that there will be more clashes in the terai and the hill. But GJM has already made it public in Darjeeling asking its inhabitants to be ready for the final agitation for Gorkhaland state. 

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