Gorkhatimes

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GJM slams Pranab, gives 10-hour break from bandh

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 21, 2009

Kolkata Gorkha Janamukti Morcha leaders on Monday denounced Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement against separate statehood, saying such statements would slow down the dialogue process.

GJM leaders said Gorkhaland is their prime demand and there is no question of going back to the issue of an amendment to the Sixth Schedule, granting Darjeeling the status of a tribal-dominated area.

Meanwhile, people in Darjeeling were seen stockpiling rations and other essential commodities as the GJM relaxed the indefinite strike for 10 hours today. People from neighbouring Sikkim too used the window period to stockpile necessary items. The GJM recently lifted the blockade of NH-31A, lifeline for the state, till July 23.

“At a time when we are sitting for talks with the government, such statements from the finance minister will slow down the process. In a democratic setup, the government should respect the wishes of 99 per cent of the people, who want Gorkhaland,” senior GJM leader Roshan Giri said over phone from Darjeeling.

“He has also spoken of Sixth Schedule, which is a dead issue for us. Everybody knows what happened to the man who patronised the idea of Sixth Schedule,” Giri said, referring to Subash Ghising, the GNLF supremo who has been ousted from Darjeeling.

Rejecting demands for a separate Gorkhaland to be carved out of West Bengal, Mukherjee had said a day earlier that the Centre was ready to grant Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling Hills and asked the GJM leadership to call off its indefinite bandh.

“There is no question of any division of Bengal,” he told reporters in Raigunj.

Meanwhile, during the 10-hour relaxation in the bandh, trucks and lorries carrying food and other items entered and left Darjeeling area freely, barring a small interruption near Siliguri, where Bangla Banchaon Committee, allegedly CPM-backed, tried to stop the vehicles from reaching the plains.

The GJM leaders said the 8 am-6 pm breather was given to help the people and allow outstation students to reach their schools and colleges in Darjeeling. Since the GJM exempted all educational institutions from the bandh, schools and colleges opened up today in Darjeeling and neighbouring areas.

Tea gardens and cinchona plantations in the area also opened up and workers joined their work, since these two were kept out of the purview of the bandh from today. The indefinite bandh has been called from July 12 in Darjeeling and adjoining areas.

Source: The Indian Express

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