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2 Aug 2017

Hill strike to continue - Gorkhaland committee to hold low-key Independence Day celebrations and form human chains on August 15

Leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee speak to the media in Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Pheroze L Vincent
Pheroze L. Vincent, TT, New Delhi, Aug. 1: The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee today decided to continue the ongoing indefinite strike in the hills on a day the Bengal chief minister asked Darjeeling parties to call off the shutdown in view of the sufferings of the people.
After a five-hour meeting of the committee - formed by hill parties and organisations to spearhead the agitation -in Delhi today, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha vice-president Kalyan Dewan said: "It is unanimously decided that the indefinite strike would continue. We appeal to the Government of India to quickly initiate a dialogue on the formation of Gorkhaland so that those on hunger strike do not die."
Three members each of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha have been sitting on a "fast unto death" at four locations in the hills since July 21 to mount pressure on the Centre to initiate talks on the statehood.
Munish Tamang, the senior vice-president of the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh, a constituent of the committee, said here today: "People have spontaneously supported the strike despite great hardship. We respect them and decided to continue the strike. This decision was unanimous."
Many Gorkhas residing in Delhi had assembled at the National Cooperative Union of India building - where the meeting was taking place - to know the outcome of the meeting.
The committee also decided to scale down Independence Day celebrations in the hills on August 15. "There will only be Tricolour flag hoisting and singing of the national anthem on August 15 this year. Gorkhas will also form human chains across the world on that day," said a committee leader.
In previous years, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, which used to be run by the Morcha, would hold soccer tournaments and cultural events among others to celebrate the Independence Day.
Dewan said the Darjeeling MP, S.S. Ahluwalia, could at least talk about the violence in the hills
"We do not believe Mamata Banerjee anymore as she is not serious about peace. This is apparent in the violence first unleashed by police and then by Trinamul cadres. Our MP is also a Union minister. Yet, we do not know what the Centre is thinking. If it is not possible for him to talk about the statehood, he can at least speak out against the human rights violations and the attacks by Trinamul cadres," said Dewan.
Tamang requested students in the hills to send postcards to the Prime Minister and the Union home minister, seeking a dialogue on the situation.

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