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28 Jul 2017

Strike to continue: Morcha..... Announcement renews 'unilateral decision' charge

TT, Calcutta, July 27: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said the indefinite agitation would continue in the hills even after the meeting of the allparty committee in Delhi on August 1, renewing questions whether the hill party was according any importance to the forum formed to spearhead the statehood movement.
" The strike will continue even after the August 1 meeting.
There is no question of lifting the strike," said Tilak Chand Roka, a central committee member of the Morcha.
Roka was speaking at a news conference attended by Jyoti Kumar Rai, assistant general secretary of the Morcha, D. K. Pradhan, the president of the Darjeeling sub- divisional committee of the party and Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai.
Earlier too, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had been accused of taking unilateral decisions. Several constituents of the Gorkhaland Movement Co- ordination Committee, including the GNLF, had objected to the decisions taken by the Morcha when the forum had been formed with the idea of " collective leadership". Interestingly though, the GNLF today backed the Morcha's decision to unilaterally announce the continuation of the strike.
Political observers said the GNLF's move was the result of the Morcha granting it permission to hold a Martyrs' Day rally in the heart of the Darjeeling town after nine years.
Sources said many in the hills had been hopeful that the committee would explore other forms of agitation to press for statehood in Delhi at a time the course of its protest in Darjeeling has faced questions from several quarters.
The Centre's silence on the issue of statehood has also cast a cloud on the feasibility of the strike, which is taking a toll on the hill residents.
Asked if the Morcha's decision would lead to a disagreement among the 14 constituents of the committee, Roka said: " Every issue, including the ongoing strike, would be discussed at the Delhi meeting. We have already heard the stand of the other parties on the agitation in the previous meetings. Keeping their viewpoints in mind, we can say that the strike would not be withdrawn." The Morcha leaders agreed that there was no word from the Centre as yet. " If there is anything, you would know even before us," Roka told the media.
Neeraj Zimba, the GNLF spokesperson, echoed Roka on the importance of continuing the strike.
" I am afraid the strike will continue even after August 1, unless there is something from the Centre. Lifting the strike without any positive outcome would mean that the agitation is futile," Zimba said.
Such remarks from the GNLF, which was critical of Morcha chief Gurung even a fortnight ago, prompted speculation that it was " reciprocating" to the Morcha's decision to allow it to hold the Martyrs' Day rally in the heart of Darjeeling.
That the GNLF is " returning favours" to Morcha was also evident when it decided to shift its rally venue from Chowk Bazaar to Clubside Stand.
It had been decided that both the GNLF and the Morcha would hold the meeting at the same venue, one after another.
" We decided to change the venue at the last moment because there were chances that the Morcha meeting might carry on for long. We had supporters coming from different parts of the hills, we could not have made them wait," Zimba said.

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