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This is our final battle: Gurung
Siliguri, Dec 13 (IANS):
Published on 14 Dec. 2009 12:05 AM IST
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Describing the ongoing agitation in Darjeeling Hills as the “final battle” for a separate Gorkhaland state, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Sunday threatened to resort to violence if it was pushed to the brink even as the administration tightened security ahead of the 96-hour shutdown beginning Monday. “This is our last battle. We will carry out a peaceful and democratic movement to achieve our goal,” GJM president Bimal Gurung told mediapersons. However, when asked to react to union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s comment that news states would not be created everywhere, Gurung shot back: “What Pranab-babu has said is based on his political understanding. We will tell Pranab-babu we don’t want to resort to violence. But if the government wants to resort to violence, then they have to take responsibility for the consequences.” “If the government pushes us like this, we will be forced to take up violence. I will request Pranab-babu not to push us in that direction,” Gurung said. He also brushed aside the rejection of Gorkhaland by the Congress, Communist Party of India- Marxist (CPI-M) and the Trinamool Congress.“The CPI-M, its leader Buddha-babu (state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee), (Trinamool chief) Mamata (Banerjee), have the right to say they are opposed to Gorkhaland. Similarly, we also have the constitutional right to demand Gorkhaland,” he said. “The government must concede our demand,” Gurung added. The GJM chief said his party would take part in the Dec 21 tri-partite talks in Darjeeling on the vexed issue, but stressed that it should discuss only the granting of Gorkhaland. Meanwhile, both the GJM and the administration were gearing up in view of the party’s call for a 96-hour shutdown in the hills from Monday. GJM assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang said all units of his party have been directed to ensure peace during the shutdown. He said even police and district administration vehicles would not be allowed to ply. “On earlier occasions, we had given relaxation during shutdowns. But this time we will ensure strict enforcement. Only emergency services and the vehicles of the district superintendent and the district magistrate will be allowed to move. Two-wheelers cannot hit the streets,” Tamang said. Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) K.L. Tamta told IANS that the police were fully prepared to tackle any eventuality. “But we are more concerned about Sikkim. We will ensure that it is not cut off.” During previous shutdowns, the GJM activists have blockaded the crucial National Highway 31-A, the lifeline of the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim, cutting it off from the rest of the country. GJM workers Sunday continued their protest rallies and fast-unto-death protests in various parts of the hills areas for the third day. One party worker on hunger strike was reported to have taken sick. The GJM has been spearheading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out from parts of northern West Bengal, besides opposing special status to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). The central government in 2005 offered the Sixth Schedule status to the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), ensuring greater autonomy to the governing body. The GJM organised indefinite shutdowns twice in the hills last year and once in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls this year, severely hitting tea, timber and tourism - the bread and butter of the region.

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