Gorkha body urges Modi govt to consider demand for separate state

The National Gorkhaland Committee adopted a resolution demanding a separate Union territory status for Darjeeling hills. Photo: PTI

The National Gorkhaland Committee (NGC), a non-political organisation of Gorkhas, has urged the BJP government to look into their longstanding demand for the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland in West Bengal’s Darjeeling hill region.

For the Gorkhas, a separate state will be the only political solution to the more than 100-year-old demand, office bearers of the NGC said. Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Neeraj Zimba, who won the Darjeeling assembly bypoll in May as a BJP candidate, too supported the demand at the meeting.

Headed by Lieutenant General (retd) Shakti Gurung, NGC, a pan-India non-political organisation of Gorkhas, has several former army officers, bureaucrats, activists as its members. Apart from office bearers, representatives of various pro-Gorkhaland parties such as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal Gurung faction), GNLF, All India Gorkha League (AIGL) were also present during the meeting held Sunday evening.

The committee adopted a resolution demanding a separate Union territory status for Darjeeling hills. “We want the central government to address and resolve the Gorkhaland demand at the earliest in keeping with the election promises made in 2014 and 2019 for finding a permanent political solution by the NDA government,” said Munish Tamang, secretary, NGC.

“A state of Gorkhaland should be granted as a constitutional political solution. We appreciate the political will demonstrated by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that has been done with J&K and Ladakh. The same political will must be applied in the case of Gorkhaland.  Talks should be initiated with all the stakeholders,” he said.

The statehood issue and implementation of the sixth schedule of the Constitution have been the major demands in the hills since the beginning of the protracted Gorkhaland movement in 1986.

Darjeeling witnessed one of its most violent agitations — a 104-day-long strike — over the demand of a separate statehood in June 2017, leading to the death of several locals and security personnel.