Gorkhaland statehood: GJM defies Mamata's warning

Darjeeling, Aug. 11 (ANI): Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung on Sunday affirmed that his party will not withdraw the indefinite shutdown called in Darjeeling to protest for Gorkhaland statehood, after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee issued a 72-hour warning to his party on Saturday.

"From day-after, our protesters will not be on the streets but we will be protesting from home. Whatever action they want to take, they can take-there's no harm. We have a constitutional right to protest and they cannot take that away from us through forceful action," Gurung said.

Gurung, who had earlier quit his post as GTA Chief Executive to press for Gorkhaland statehood, said that their movement is not aimed at the state government but instead towards the Central Government.

"I have said it before, we are taking up this issue with the Centre through talks. This is not a state issue. We have not come forward to talk with the state government. We have come forward to talk to the Central Government. Our team is talking in Delhi, as well," Gurung said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had issued a 72-hour warning, before taking action, on Saturday to the GJM to withdraw the bandh called in Darjeeling and alleged that the shutdown was called by a hand full of political leaders to "create confusion among the people to make their life hell."

In his message to Banerjee, Gurung said that she should not employ means of dictatorship to disrupt their constitutional right to protest."Being the Chief Minister, she should not indulge in wrongdoings. This dictatorship, which is Hitler-like, should not be carried out by her....How long will this go on? Someday or the other, we will be separated from this state and that is why we are fighting. Till my purpose is fulfilled, we are not going to withdraw or speak to the state government," Gurung asserted.

On Saturday, Banerjee had said though she will never "give up Darjeeling," she is willing to talk to the concerned parties on the issue of separate statehood for Gorkhaland.

Gurung said that though the movement towards Gorkhaland statehood would be a matter of time and patience, his party was happy that discussions with the Centre are ongoing.

"Atleast the Central Government is talking to us and discussing the issue at hand-positive or negative I cannot comment right now. An immediate solution cannot be reached upon, we will have to wait for it. Till then, the movement has to be taken forward and for the movement we will have to go through suffering. We will suffer as long as needed," Gurung said.

Gurung also said that arrests will not deter the movement for separate statehood has it has spread far and wide.

"The issue of Gorkhaland will not succumb if I am jailed. It will not succumb no matter how many people are jailed. The demand is being made by lakhs of people, how many will they arrest? This movement will not die as it is the final movement. No matter what the action taken against us, even if we have to bleed for it, we will make sure that this final movement for Gorkhaland is successful. We have told the youth that this is the final fight," Gurung said.

"We have put forth our issue before the UPA and NDA. It is up to them if they want to give our cause justice or not. We are prepared for whatever happens. We are living for our identity. We are fighting for our identity," Gurung added.

Gurung also denied any forceful participation of locals in the protests and said that the public has supported them in the shutdown.

Banerjee has maintained that separate statehood is not on the cards because Darjeeling is an integral part of West Bengal.

"Two or three political leaders cannot create confusion among the people to make their life hell. Beyond our political responsibility, we have the more important responsibility to stand by our people. I can sacrifice everything for the public. I am ready to sacrifice myself but I cannot sacrifice the people, please remember. That is why it is our caution, our appeal and our request (to withdraw the bandh within 72 hours). I think that they will listen to us. The state government is not guardian-less. Darjeeling is not guardian-less. Bengal is not guardian-less. Democratic government is the guardian in this state," Banerjee said on Saturday.

Darjeeling has been paralyzed for nine days after the GJM had ordered an indefinite shutdown in protest for a separate state, after the Central Government made their decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

"Let the brothers and sisters of Darjeeling live in peace. Bandhs do not help any cause. Remember that Darjeeling is our heart. Darjeeling is a part and parcel of India and West Bengal. Let our state be happy with the develop, prosperity and progress," Banerjee added.

GJM called an indefinite bandh pressing their demand for Gorkhaland as a separate state to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northern West Bengal.

After the decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh was made public, the demand for creation of other states has grown louder throughout the country. There have been demands and protests to divide Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal. (ANI)