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GJM announces economic blockade in West Bengal

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The leadership of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) intensified on Sunday its stir for a separate State to be carved out of West Bengal’s Darjeeling hills and certain areas contiguous to it, thus threatening a fresh wave of political unrest in the region.

It announced an “economic blockade” of locally produced goods to the rest of the State and has called on its supporters, particularly women, to obstruct all roads leading to the region to prevent Subash Ghisingh, arch political rival and administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), from returning.

Mr. Ghisingh had left the hills earlier this month and during his stay in New Delhi, met several leaders to press for the passage of the amendment bills granting Sixth Schedule status to the Darjeeling hills in the Budget session of Parliament.

The bills, introduced in the winter session of the House, have been referred to a Parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs.

The State government, too, is keen to see them through.

“We have intensified our agitation for Gorkhaland as the State government that was to have officially let known its response to our demand for the immediate removal of Mr. Ghisingh from the post of DGHC administrator has failed to do so after an assurance that it will inform us of its stand by February 15,” Roshan Giri, GJM general secretary, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

Unofficial reports reaching the Morcha headquarters, however, say the West Bengal government has decided to allow Mr. Ghisingh to continue in his post till his tenure ends on March 23, GJM spokesperson, Benoy Tamang, said. “This is unacceptable”, he added.

A delegation of GJM leaders that included Mr. Giri had met the State’s Chief Secretary, Amit K. Deb, here on February 13 with its demands that included scrapping of the move to grant Sixth Schedule status to the Darjeeling region — one that the GJM has been advised to take up with the Parliamentary standing committee concerned.

“There can be no further talks with the State government on the issue in Kolkata. We shall accept no more invitations for discussions. If it wishes, the government can send its officials to Darjeeling to discuss matters with us,” the GJM leadership said.

The blockade of goods produced in the hills to the rest of West Bengal includes timber, other forest produce, vegetables and fruits.

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