GJM activists protest in Delhi for Gorkhaland

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Activists of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Monday held a sit-in demonstration at Delhi's Jantar Mantar to press their demand for carving a separate state of Gorkhaland from West Bengal.

Carrying placards and banners and raising slogans, numbering several hundred GJM activists began their demonstration Monday morning.

Among those who participated in the demonstration included three GJM legislators in the West Bengal assembly and members from its various wings -- women, student and youth.

Terming the demand for Gorkhaland as the oldest demand for statehood, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the central government should take up the issue of Gorkhaland along with Telangana.

"The Gorkhaland demand was first voiced in 1907, which was 40 years before independence. But the central government is not prepared to consider our demand. It is only considering Telangana. Our demand is that along with Telengana, the demand for Gorkhaland must also be considered," said Giri.

"We won't sit idle. We will start a full-scale movement in the hills and terai region of Darjeeling," he added.

The long-standing agitation for forming a separate state of the northern West Bengal hills has led to loss of many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting hard the region's economic mainstays of tea, timber and tourism.

On July 18 last year, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous and elected hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor -- the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM now runs the GTA after sweeping its maiden elections last July.

Giri, however, said the GJM never dropped the Gorkhaland demand while signing the GTA agreement.

"The tripartite agreement clearly mentioned -- 'without dropping the demand for Gorkahland' and 'keeping on record the demand for Gorkhaland'," he added.

With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slated to be in Darjeeling district from Monday afternoon, the GJM leader said: "The chief minister and the Bengal government have their own stated position on the Gorkhaland issue, while we have our own."

The GJM leaders earlier Jan 11 met union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to press for their demand.

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