Gorkhatimes

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Bandh on August 11 to protest tripartite talks

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 25, 2009

Children play on a deserted street in Darjeeling on Friday.

Children play on a deserted street in Darjeeling on Friday.

Siliguri, July 24: An apolitical Bengali organisation has called a 24-hour strike across the state on August 11 to protest against the tripartite talks involving the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in New Delhi on the day.

However, observers said the bandh called by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachaon Committee will have little impact on the state, except in Siliguri subdivision and some parts of neighbouring Jalpaiguri district where anti-Morcha feeling runs high.

Mukunda Majumdar, the president of the committee, said today: “We oppose not only the formation of Gorkhaland but also the conferment of special status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution on the Darjeeling hills. The committee considers any move in either direction as the partition of Bengal. As the Centre has included these issues in the agenda of the meeting to be convened on August 11, we have decided to observe a 24-hour strike across Bengal on that day.

Apart from the Morcha and the Centre, the third party to participate in the talks is the Bengal government.

Whenever the committee had called the strikes on similar issues in the past, only Siliguri subdivision and some parts of neighbouring Jalpaiguri district were affected.

“There were reasons for the strike remaining limited to Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. The committee lacks organisational strength and has only a handful of supporters, even less than the Amra Bangali which has some base in at least two districts.”

“However in Siliguri and adjoining Jalpaiguri, it is not the organisation but the anti-Morcha stance which contributes in making the protests called by the committee a success,” said an observer.

In the Dooars, the impact of the strike depends on the decision of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, which of late, has emerged as the guiding force of the tribal population in the region.

“If the Parishad supports the strike, it would be total. Otherwise, the impact will be minimal,” said a person who has been closely monitoring the situation in the hills and the plains.

Traders have come out against the strike call. “We oppose any form of protest as it affects business. Our members are already incurring losses because of the ongoing strike in the hills and now another bandh is thrust on us, which means further losses,” said Biswajit Das, the general secretary of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, North Bengal.

Pranab Mani, the secretary of the Siliguri Inter-District Minibus Owners’ Association, said since two weeks were left for August 11, they had time to sit and decide.

Source: The Telegraph

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