An indefinite bandh has been called in Darjeeling Hills by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) from Saturday to press its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, a day after Congress and its allies unanimously decided to create Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh.
"If there can be a Telangana state then why not a Gorkhaland? We are demanding that our 107-year-old legitimate demand (for a separate state) be fulfilled," GJM general secretary and spokesman RoshanGiri told reporters after a party core committee meeting on Wednesday.
"Darjeeling was never in West Bengal. It was under Sikkim and Bhutan in pre-independence India. Therefore, there is no question of division of Bengal," he said.
GJM members in Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), from which its CEO and GJM chief Bimal Gurung quit on Tuesday, would continue for now and six members of the party, including three MLAs from the hills would leave for Delhi on Friday to meet the MPs of various parties and apprise them of the Gorkhaland demand.
The six-member team would comprise Giri himself, Trilok Dewan (Darjeeling MLA), Harkabahadur Chetri (Kalimpong MLA), Rohit Sharma (Kurseong MLA), DK Pradhan and Amar Rai.
"We are carrying out a peaceful agitation through democratic means for statehood of Gorkhaland. If the state government represses it we will intensify our agitation ... We will continue our agitation ... at any cost, any sacrifice till we get our Gorkhaland," he said.
He termed as 'untrue' chief minister Mamata Banerjee's allegation that Congress had instigated the Darjeeling agitation.
"Congress did not instigate us ... The Gorkhas are very peace-loving people. But we have not been given any recognition and no state was given to us despite our sacrifices in the various wars. Today we have no identity - nobody, not the Centre nor the state gave it to us," Giri said.
Giri blamed the West Bengal government for 'compelling' Gurung to quit as GTA CEO. The state government did not allow GTA to function properly and never handed key departments like home and finance to it, he said.
The GJM members in GTA were ready to quit 'anytime, anyday' as desired by Gurung, he said.
Referring to the indefinite bandh call, he said tea and cinchona factories would be allowed to function normally.
There would be no bandh in the hills by GJM for two days from Thursday and students of boarding schools and tourists, including foreigners, should leave during the time, Giri added.
The third-day of the Darjeeling Hills bandh by GJM on the statehood issue passed off peacefully amidst patrolling by IRB and RAF personnel.
Additional security personnel were posted at the district magistrate's office, while two companies of CRPF have been kept on standby, official sources said.
Shops and markets remained closed, as did educational institutions, banks, government and private offices. Vehicles, however, plied as the bandh sponsors allowed their movement.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena has called a two-day bandh in Siliguri from August one opposing the Gorkhaland demand.
The party said it will prevent movement of food stuff to the hills from Siliguri, which acts as the gateway to the Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim, during the duration of the bandh.