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Darjeeling unrest: Hill leaders to start fast unto death from July 15

Darjeeling unrest: Leaders of the GJM and other parties in Darjeeling hills today said they will start a ‘fast-unto-death’ to press their demand for a separate state even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked them not to play with fire and help in return of peace there. (PTI)

asked them not to play with fire and help in return of peace there. The newly formed Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) also decided to give all chairmen and vice chairmen of the development boards set up by the West Bengal government, the deadline of July 14 to step down from their posts. The 30-member committee, headed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said it wanted a CBI inquiry into all the incidents of violence and the “killing” of seven GJM supporters in alleged police firing.

At a public meeting in Digha in East Midnapore district, Banerjee said, “Those who are playing with fire in the hills, should desist from it. We will not allow the hills to be on fire. We will bring peace.” She also blamed the BJP-led goverrment at the Centre for the impasse in Darjeeling. Last week, Banerjee had urged the political parties in the hills to return to the path of peace and sit with the government for talks. After a four-hour-long meeting of the GMCC, GJM leader Binoy Tamang told reporters in Darjeeling that the leaders of all the parties in the hills have decided to go on a “fast-unto-death” at Chowrasta mall from July 15 to press their demand for a separate ‘Gorkhaland’. This was the second meeting of the GMCC.

Besides the GJM, its has members from other parties like the Gorkha National Liberation Front, the Jan Andolan Party and the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh. Tamang said that one leader from each party would participate in the fast and that the indefinite shutdown would go on. The GMCC also decided that the offices of the district magistrate, the sub-divisional officer and the block development officer will be ‘gheraoed’ from July 14 to protest against the state government’s “move block the passage of essential goods to the hills”. “We will observe the birthday of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya on July 13 as ‘Gorkha Jati Ektaa Diwas’. It has also been decided that all the awards which the West Bengal government has given to the people in the hills, will be returned,” a member of GMCC said.

The Army and other security forces patrolled streets in Darjeeling on the 27th day of the shutdown. Officials said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the hills. Three Army columns, each comprising around 50 personnel, remained deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada, they said. The GJM took out a rally in Mirik where it had lost the municipal poll to the Trinamool Congress in May.