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Darjeeling: Crisis Continues

Darjeeling Gorkhaland Agitation
Peace that dawned in Darjeeling on Mahasaptami Day following a 104 day bandh may not last with the West Bengal government feuding with the Centre. The Centre wanted to withdraw central paramilitary forces from the region. Mamata Banerjee sniffed conspiracy in it and opposed the decision on the ground that it would disturb the law and order situation. The Calcutta High Court has resolved the dispute staying the withdrawal of troops. This round has gone to the West Bengal government though the judiciary and not the executive sorted out the mess. Of course, it has to be admitted that Mamata Banerjee was largely responsible for bringing on the crisis and may not have been entirely justified in saying that the BJP encouraged the Gorkhas to mount the agitation demanding a separate state. Her government antagonised the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) by making Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Then she had Bimal Gurung replaced by GJM revel Binoy Tamang as Chairman of the Gorkha Territorial administration (GTA). That did not go down well with the last section of the Gorkha leadership.

Admittedly, the Trinamul government never looked favourably at the close ties between the GJM and the BJP. First, Jaswant Singh and then S.S Ahluwalia of the BJP have been representatives of Darjeeling in Parliament. It is not clear whether the BJP supports Gorkhaland though it is in principle in favour of creation of small states. But Gorkhaland is unviable for two reasons. First, it is too small with only three parliamentary constituencies. The reported support of Sikkim puts a new complexion of the scene provided it means merger of Gorkhaland with Sikkim. But that will invalidate the raison d’etre for Gorkhaland. Secondly, Gorkhaland is strategically situated providing a corridor between the North East and China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The Centre and the West Bengal government should go all out to work out a sensible settlement without crushing Gorkha aspirations.


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