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18 Dec 2016

Gurung’s ‘fast unto death for Gorkhaland’ on hold

Amitava Banerjee, HT, 18 Dec 2016, DARJEELING: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has retracted his decision to start a fast unto death for Gorkhaland at the end of the five-day dharna in Delhi.
A press release from the GJM at the end of the dharna in Delhi states, “Bimal Gurung has decided to put on hold the fast unto death on the request of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. However, if the Union government is anyway looking away from the separate state demand, Gurung will immediately launch an indefinite hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi.”
Meanwhile, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) quoting a Press Information Bureau (PIB) release has alleged that Gorkhaland did not feature in the talks with the Union government on Thursday. Gurung had earlier assured that the meeting with the Union ministry would be on the one-point agenda of a separate state.
“GJM general secretary claims that the bipartite talks with the Centre discussed the Gorkhaland issue and that the government is initiating steps to constitute a committee to examine the Gorkhaland demand. Roshan Giri further claimed that the Union government has already corresponded with the Bengal government to nominate a representative for the committee. However, neither the word ‘Gorkhaland’ not any mention of the committee can be found in the PIB release.
“Further it is clearly mentioned that Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration which means that the meeting was held to discuss issues pertaining to the autonomous body and not Gorkhaland,” said Neeraj Zimba, spokesperson, GNLF.
The PIB release says, “In the meeting, it was decided to sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the adivasis and the other people of the Darjeeling district and the Dooars region.”
“There is no mention of Gorkhaland. It is also clear that long pending demands of adivasis and other people of the Darjeeling district and Dooars region which includes the Bengalis also, is in no way Gorkhaland.” added Zimba.
The GNLF feels that the meeting would have been an apt forum to raise the Gorkhaland issue but owing to the lack of sincerity of both GJM and BJP, the issue did not feature in the talks. “In both the 2009 and 2014 election manifestos of the BJP party, nowhere is there mention of Gorkhaland,” said Zimba.
The PIB release also does not mention anything regarding the constitution of a committee.

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