In a symbolic move to show snapping of all ties with the West Bengal government and protest against the development board of the north Bengal hills, protesters on Tuesday burnt documents of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) agreement.The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists gathered at Chowk Bazar and publicly set fire to the documents.They announced that more rallies would be held and warned all other parties against taking part in any fresh elections to the GTA.The scheduled demonstration drew a huge crowd from all across the north Bengal hill town. The demonstrators carried the Tri-colour along with the GJM party flag and raised pro-Gorkhaland slogans demanding statehood.The GJM leadership present at the Chowk Bazar said similar demonstrations would be held at 45 other places in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and the Dooars region.They said the burning of the GTA documents officially marked the end of the developmental board in the hills.
"Today (Tuesday) we are burning the GTA memorandum agreement and the GTA Act that was signed in August 2011. From today, GTA would be a non-entity in the hills. We do not want it anymore. The only thing we want now is Gorkhaland," Binay Tamang, GJM's Assistant General Secretary, said.
"None of the political parties in the hills would participate in any form of GTA election. But if the state government tries to impose the election here and anyone tries to fight the election even as an Independent candidate, they would have to do that at their own risk," Tamang warned.
Similar demonstrations were observed in the plains of north Bengal as the GJM supporters gathered in large numbers at various places in Siliguri, including Pintel Village where the agreements were signed in 2011.The local Morcha leadership accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of trying to polarise the people in the hills and pledged to continue their fight till their demand for a separate Gorkhaland was fulfilled.
"Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly come to the hills and tried to polarise us. We are protesting against that by burning these documents. Our fight for Gorkhaland would continue till it is achieved," GJM leader Vishal Chettri said.Denouncing the GJM's action, state Tourism Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Gautam Deb accused them of resorting to theatrics to divert people's attention from the corruption and malpractices in the GTA for the last five years."Burning the documents does not end the GTA agreement. The Morcha leaders including Bimal Gurung enjoyed power in the GTA for 59 months. Now they are resigning seven days before their term gets over to reinstate the Gorkhaland sentiment," Deb claimed.
"They have run a corrupt GTA administration in the hills and resorted to complete non-governance. That's why they are trying to divert people's attention by doing such theatrics," he alleged.Meanwhile, fresh incidents of violence were reported from Darjeeling as a group of GJM supporters allegedly vandalised the Tagda BDO office in Darjeeling, pelted stones and tried to set the building on fire, police said."The Tagda BDO office was targeted by a group of Morcha supporters. They were resisted by police," Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Kumar Cahturvedi told IANS.However, he said there was no violence or tension over the GJM demonstration in the morning.Earlier in the day, in a unique form of protest against the state government and police action, several activists of the Yuva Morcha -- the youth wing of the GJM -- conducted a "tubelight rally" and broke the tubelight rods on their back."This is a protest against Bengal's constant oppression of the Nepali community. We have different cultures, different language. We should have a different state," said an activist who participated in the demonstration.On Monday, Prakash Gurung, President of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM), vowed to resort to a hunger strike and self-immolation and urged the Centre to start a dialogue on the issue of a separate Gorkhaland."We will intensify our agitation for Gorkhaland by taking the path of self-sacrifice and fasting unto death from now on," he said.The picturesque Darjeeling district in northern West Bengal is on the boil for more than two weeks now over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland.The GJM, which is spearheading the movement, has repeatedly rejected any possibility of talks with the Mamata Banerjee government, accusing it of "oppression and high-handedness".The Trinamool Congress government in the state maintains that it is ready for a discussion after the situation in the area becomes normal.