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Bimal Gurung sees Darjeeling-Sikkim merger as Gorkhaland option

Pawan Chamling and Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung today said he would take up with the Centre and the Sikkim government the issue of merging Darjeeling with Sikkim even as he has called a renewed agitation for statehood.

Speaking during the GJM’s ninth foundation day celebrations in Darjeeling, Gurung said if the West Bengal government is unable to facilitate the creation of a Gorkhaland state, it should merge the Darjeeling hills with Sikkim. Talking to newspersons later, he said: “Bengal cannot give us anything. Moreover, merging Darjeeling with Sikkim is a matter that only the Central government can fulfill.” The GJM chief said such a merger is plausible and that he intends to take up the issue with the Centre and the Sikkim government. “First of all, Darjeeling was actually a part of Sikkim. Secondly, if the Central government’s views change with regard to creating a separate state, there is always the option of merging the two regions. The Union government needs to think about this and conduct verification exercises once we place the proposal,” he said.

When asked if the Sikkim government would agree to such a merger, the GJM chief said: “Sikkim may give their approval. I will talk to them.” The idea of a merger is not a new concept. The Darjeeling Sikkim Ekikaran Manch, a non-political outfit, has been pursuing and propagating the matter in the hills and in Sikkim and has also placed

the demand before the central government. Gurung also said he would henceforth not meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she comes to Darjeeling next, accusing her of fomenting trouble in the hills by dividing the communities with development boards.

“She brings trouble whenever she comes to Darjeeling and I will not tolerate this anymore. We don’t want to get into confrontations with the state government, but the CM insisting that there would be no division of Bengal is not the end of the matter but one that will be decided by the central government,” Gurung said. Cautioning people and Opposition parties of the hills against the chief minister’s divisive policies, he appealed for a united struggle. “The CM has a smiling face but a dark heart. We must beware of her dangerous intentions to divide us in order to dilute our demand. Why does she not develop the Adivasis, Rajbongshis and Machuwas of the Terai and Dooars, whose conditions are worse off than us? Enough is enough, now we will not give her the honour and respect we have been according her,” the GJM president said. (EOI)

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