Morcha holds rally in Darjeeling, burns GTA accord papers
In a bid to cut all ties with the West Bengal government and to protest the development board of the North Bengal hills, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) on Tuesday burnt documents of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement.
The GTA activists gathered at Chowk Bazar and publicly set fire to the documents.
They announced more rallies would be held and warned all other parties against taking part in any fresh elections to the GTA in the hills.
The scheduled demonstration drew a huge crowd from all across the North Bengal hill town. The demonstrators carried the Tricolor along with the GJM party flag and raised pro-Gorkhaland slogans, demanding statehood.
The GJM leadership present at the Chowk Bazar said similar demonstrations would be held at 45 other places in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the Dooars region.
They said the burning of the GTA documents officially marked the end of the developmental board in the hills.
"Today (Tuesday) we are burning the GTA memorandum agreement and the GTA Act that was signed in August 2011. From today, GTA would be a non-entity in the hills. We do not want the GTA anymore. The only thing we want now is Gorkhaland," Binay Tamang, GJM's Assistant General Secretary, said.
"None of the political parties in the hills would participate in any form of GTA election. But if the state government tries to impose the election here and anyone tries to fight the election even as an independent candidate, they would have to do that at their own risk," Tamang warned.
Similar demonstrations were observed in the plains of North Bengal as the GJM supporters gathered in large numbers at various places in Siliguri.
The local Morcha leadership blamed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of trying to polarise the people in the hills and pledged to continue their fight till their demand for a separate Gorkhaland is fulfilled.
"Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly come to the hills and tried to polarise us. We are protesting against that by burning these documents. Our fight for Gorkhaland would continue till it is achieved," GJM leader Vishal Chettri said.
Earlier in the day, in a unique form of protest against the state government and police actions, several activists of Yuba Morcha - the youth wing of GJM -- conducted a 'tubelight rally' and broke the tubelight rods on their back.
"This is a protest against Bengal's constant oppression of the Nepali community. We have different cultures, different language. We should have a different state," said an activist who participated in the demonstration.
On Monday, Prakash Gurung, President of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM), vowed to resort to hunger-strike and self-immolation and urged the Centre to start a dialogue on the issue of separate Gorkhaland.
"We will intensify our agitation for Gorkhaland by taking the path of self-sacrifice and fasting unto death from now on," he said.
The picturesque Darjeeling district in northern West Bengal is on the boil for more than two weeks now over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
The GJM, which is spearheading the movement for Gorkhaland, has repeatedly rejected any possibility of talks with the Mamata Banerjee government, accusing it of "oppression and high-handedness".
The Trinamool Congress government in the state maintains that it is ready for a discussion after the situation in the area becomes normal.