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Bimal Gurung started padyatra for Gorkhaland

Bimal Gurung started Gorkhaland Jagaran Padyatra
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today stepped back in time to embark on a ‘padyatra’ with party leaders and supporters in demand of a separate Gorkhaland state, an issue that continues to unsettle the hills every time it is brought up.
The padyatra is one of the many pre-announced agitation programmes of the GJM for a separate state that Gurung has restarted in protest against the alleged interference by the state government on matters related to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. The GJM chief has accused the state government of failing to uphold and implement the 2011 GTA agreement and Act in letter and spirit. In February 2011, Gurung had embarked on a padyatra to the Dooars for Gorkhaland that resulted in the death of three women supporters in police firing. This morning, Gurung started on the padyatra from Damber Chowk in Kalimpong and is expected to reach Darjeeling on October 7, the party’s foundation day. The agitators will then head to Kurseong on October 9 after the foundation day celebrations. Speaking to reporters before the march, Gurung said, “The padyatra is for Gorkhaland. We want to send a message to the government that our demand for a separate state is still alive and it must be fulfilled.” The GJM’s relations with the state government is at the lowest over issues such as unnecessary interference in the functioning of the hill body, non-transfer of departments and the establishment of development boards for hill communities, the latter which Gurung claims is a divisive ploy. Compounding matters is the resignation of two of the GJM’s MLAs from Darjeeling and Kalimpong. On September 30, the GJM organised a massive public meeting in Kalimpong in an apparent show of strength where Gurung announced a slew of agitation programmes including pasting posters and creating awareness about the statehood issue and holding dharnas in Delhi. Gurung said, “A separate state is for the future of our children. We will reach out to people in the remotest of places during our padyatra and tell them about the importance of a separate state. We will agitate but in a democratic manner. We will organise dharna in Delhi when the winter session of Parliament starts.” Political observers in the hills are of the opinion that the GJM’s decision to re-start the agitation was a strategy to not only keep its flock together, but also to show people the party has not given up on the statehood demand. “There have been several developments in the hills which have political implications that the GJM cannot fail to ignore. Forming of development boards for the communities and interference in running of the GTA by the district administration and desertion by its senior leaders blaming the party hierarchy are good enough reasons to make the GJM shaky,” one observer pointed out, not wishing to be named. Meanwhile, as the GJM president started the padyatra, around 100 youth supporters from Kalimpong announced their decision to leave the party. The desertion was led by Pasang Tamang, an active member and younger brother of Nima Tamang, the GTA Sabhasad from the Homes-Bhalukhop constituency. Pasang Tamang said they had quit the GJM in order to work independently for creating a Kalimpong district. (EOIC)

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