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4 Aug 2017

50 days and counting: What is keeping Gorkhaland agitation alive

gorkhaland agitationOneindia, August 4, 2017, Darjeeling: How long people can keep protesting for a cause close to their hearts? The answer is not an easy one. Perhaps it depends on their resolve to reach their desired goal.
On Thursday, as the indefinite bandh demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland in Darjeeling and its adjoining areas of West Bengal reached its 50th day, the question regarding the longevity of the protest came to the forefront.
The demand for a separate state to be carved out from Bengal for the Nepali-speaking people is not a new one. In the past too, on several occasions, the hills erupted in violent protests by people demanding Gorkhaland.
The most talked about Gorkhaland agitation was the one that took place in the 1980s (1986-1988). That time the movement for statehood was led by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF). This time it is the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) which is spearheading the mass agitation.
However, this is for the first time when the hills of North Bengal observed 50 days of indefinite bandh which has almost halted the normal life of the residents.
Due to the bandh, life has come to a standstill across Darjeeling and its suburbs. In the hills, schools, colleges, shops and several offices have remained closed for almost two months now.
The authorities have also put a ban on internet services in the hills. The bandh, called by the GJM on June 15, has the support of all the pro-Gorkhaland parties.
In spite of all the difficulties, the resolve of the people to continue with the movement is still very strong.
"This is the longest spell of shutdown in the country and must be one of the longest in the world," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri was quoted as saying by The Hindustan Times.
The leaders of the movement are firm to continue with their agitation till their demands are fulfilled. During a meeting on Tuesday, the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC), the apex body of the political parties which is spearheading the stir in Darjeeling hills, decided to continue with the strike.
The GMCC has also decided to shift its protest to Delhi as both the Centre and the state governments are yet to listen to their pleas. While the Centre is maintaining a wait and watch policy as far as the protest and its demands are concerned, the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal has clearly stated that she won't let the division of the state.
As the political impasse continues and most leaders of the movement are either hiding underground or in Delhi to avoid arrest, it is the people of Darjeeling and its suburbs who are continuing with the protest.

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