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17 Jun 2017

Morcha march to hub... Morcha activists stopped ...GJM fear of scaling down the agitation by administration

Army soldiers man the road winding up to Patlebas in Darjeeling. Picture by Passang Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 16: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today urged people from "every nook and corner of the hills" to march to Bimal Gurung's office in Patlebas tomorrow.
Named "Destination Patlebas", the march is being conceived as "a show of solidarity" to the statehood demand. The rally is likely to stretch the security establishment, given the police crackdowns over the past few days on any activity that threatened to disrupt law and order.
Sources said the call for the rally was aimed at boosting the morale of the Morcha cadres, a section of whom were worried that the agitation was leading to nowhere.
Jyoti Kumar Rai, assistant general secretary of the Morcha, said today: "People from every nook and corner of the hills will march to Patlebas. This is to show solidarity towards our statehood demand and protest against the illegal raid at Patlebas."
The police had raided Gurung's office in Patlebas yesterday and sealed it after a telescopic crossbow and weapons were found there.
Sources said 11 senior Morcha leaders, including six elected GTA Sabha members, had been told to mobilise people from across the hills and march towards Patlebas.
Today too, youth Morcha activists in Tindharia and Sukhiapokhari tried to start a march towards Gurung's office but were stopped midway.
According to some Morcha insiders, the party leadership was under extreme pressure as many cadres had expressed concern if the agitation would eventually be scaled down like in the past.
The BJP-led Centre is yet to make its stand clear on the statehood demand. Sources had said yesterday that the Centre had convened a tripartite meeting on June 19 to discuss the situation in the hills. The Bengal government was learnt to have requested the Centre to defer the meeting.
The BJP is an ally of the Morcha.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who met Union home minister Rajnath Singh yesterday, told The Telegraph over phone today: "There has been no fresh development in Delhi. I met Rajnath Singh yesterday and put forth the aspirations of the hill people. The Centre is aware of all developments."
"There was no mention of a tripartite meeting when I met the Union home minister. Even if talks are to be held, they have to be on the demand for Gorkhaland," he added.
Many Morcha leaders are also of the opinion that Giri should have waited for the June 20 all-party meeting for a joint movement for Gorkhaland instead of heading to Delhi, the sources said.

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