Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s letter to Darjeeling MP Raju Bista mentioning "Gorkhaland" has triggered speculations that after the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, the Narendra Modi government may be planning to divide West Bengal.
According to news agency PTI, citing sources, Bista wrote a letter to Shah in July, where he had sought protection for Gorkhas in the national capital. In his response, Shah said that his concerns over the people of “Gorkhaland and Ladakh area” are being looked at.
The use of word "Gorkhaland" by the home minister drew severe criticism from the West Bengal’s ruling party TMC, which accused the Modi government of plotting to break the state into two parts.
"Why did he use the word Gorkhaland? There is no place called Gorkhaland in the entire area. It seems after dividing Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is planning to bifurcate Bengal," senior Trinamool Congress leader and Minister Gautam Deb said.
"As long as the TMC is here, nobody can break the state," Deb added. After TMC's attack, the BJP quickly came into the defensive mode and said that Shah using the word "Gorkhaland" has nothing to do with creation of a separate state.
"The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was set up through a tripartite agreement between the TMC government, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), and the Congress government at the Centre in 2011. So, if they can use the word Gorkhaland, why can’t we use it to refer to the residents of the area?" the Darjeeling MP asked.
Darjeeling has time and again witnessed violent agitations over the demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland, the latest being in June 2017, when the hills witnessed a 104-day strike over statehood. After the bifurcation of Kashmir into two Union Territories, several hill parties had also demanded UT status for Darjeeling.