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9 Aug 2017

Morcha to mull post-deadline option - Youths on fast put on oxygen

The road leading to the Morcha's Patlebas office in Darjeeling on Tuesday after the police cleared uprooted trees laid across the path. Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, Calcutta, Aug. 8: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership will sit down tomorrow to discuss the next course of action as the ultimatum to the Centre to initiate a process of dialogue on the single point agenda of Gorkhaland ended without response at 6pm today.
Even as the deadline ended, condition of three Morcha supporters on fast in Kalimpong worsened. They were put on oxygen and given saline.
"We had a meeting of our party's core committee this evening. Certain discussions were held but we need to talk further to decide on some issues. By tomorrow, we will make some announcements with regard to our future course of action," Binay Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the Morcha said.
The Morcha said it would carry on with planned rallies from tomorrow "in response to the Prime Minister's call" to observe the 75th anniversary of Quit India Movement.
Jyoti Kumar Rai, another assistant general secretary of the Morcha, said: "We have already announced the Tiranga Yatras to commemorate the 75th year of Quit India Movement following a call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From tomorrow and till the Independence Day, we will carry on with these programmes with more participation of people."
A few days back, the Morcha had said apart from "Vande Mataram" and "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" chants, the cadres would also raise "Bengal, Quit Darjeeling" and "We Want Gorkhaland" slogans at the rallies which would be brought out without political flags.
The party's delay in making a prompt decision immediately after the end of the deadline was an indication that the leadership is cornered and bereft of ideas.
"The hills have been totally shut for more than two months now. The fast'-unto-death' by Yuva Morcha activists in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik today entered the 19th day... Since there is no response even after the unprecedented shutdown and indefinite hunger strike, the party leadership seems to be definitely in a fix now," said an observer.
Another Morcha leader hinted that the party still had an option to keep on lobbying the Centre and that was the main reason for not changing the plan to organise Tiranga Yatra despite the Centre cold-shouldering the deadline.
"I think banking on Delhi is the only way out," said a mid-level Morcha leader.
Most hill residents said that they were worried about the physical conditions of the 12 Yuva Morcha supporters on the indefinite fast. Sources said that their condition was critical.
Health department sources said the condition of Raju Biswakarma, Ajit Roka and Sagar Diyali - the trio fasting in Kalimpong - refused to be shifted to the hospital. "We decided to intervene at the spot where they have been on fast. All of them were put on oxygen and given saline," said a health official.
Anil Lopchan, the vice-president of Yuva Morcha, said despite the health condition of the three, the fast-unto-death would continue.
Later in the evening, Kalimpong district magistrate Viswanath visited the fasting protesters and requested them to get admitted to the hospital.
In the meanwhile, for the second time in the past three days, the police today patrolled the areas leading to the Morcha's Patlebas office in Darjeeling. "We hope the police do not indulge in excessiveness that could lead to clashes. Of late, there is relative peace in the hills with no clashes with the police. We hope the police will not do anything that would disturb the current situation," said Rai.

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