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Janmukti for GJM - Agitation Continues

The current turmoil in West Bengal is regarding a demand for separate State of Gorkhaland. It is being instigated by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a political party in West Bengal.

The proposed state of Gorkhaland consists of Nepali-speaking Indian Gorkha population of northern hill districts of West Bengal.
The hill districts comprise of District of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri Terai and Dooras areas.

Timeline of the Struggle

• The demand for a separate state is more than 100-years old.

• Under the British, citing their distinct ethnicity and identity, people of Darjeeling demanded for a separate administrative unit. This demand transformed into a demand for separate state in independent India.

• Two mass agitations have taken place so far.

• One, in the 1980s was led by Subash Ghisingh. The second is being led by GJM from 2007 to till date.

• Subash Ghisingh coined the name Gorkhaland. He led a violent agitation form 1986-88 under a party named Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).

• The outcome of the agitation was the signing a tripartite agreement between DNLF, Cenral Government and West Bengal Government.

• As per the agreement, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), an autonomous body within the State of West Bengal to administer Darjeeling district with Kalimpong, Kurseong and some areas of Siliguri as subdivisions was formed.

• DGHC functioned from 1988 till 2012. Subash Ghisingh was its chairman from 1988 to 2005.

• In 2005, after Ghisigh signed an agreement with the government to replace DGHC with a sixth schedule Gorkha Hill Council, political parties in the hills opposed the agreement.

• In 2008, Ghisingh was forced to stepdown as DGHC’s caretaker owing to his loss of popular support to GJM.

• From 2008 to 2012, DGHC functioned without a Chairman.

• In 2011, the Bimal Gurung led GJM signed an agreement with both the state and Central Government to form Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Reasons for Current Agitation in Darjeeling

• The crisis is sparked by West Bengal Government’s policy of making Bengali language compulsory till class 10. This is as part of three-language formula where one language will be Bengali and the rest of them is of student’s choice.

• The move was opposed by GJM stating that the state government is imposing Bengali on Nepali speaking people.

• Though the Bengal Government clarified that Bengali will be an optional subject, GJM did not back down.

• GJM also cites that, as per 2011 agreement state government was mandated to transfer major departments like land and land reforms, tea gardens, culture and information to GTA.

• This was not done by the government, thereby making GTA less autonomous and leading to GJM reviving the demand for Gorkhaland.

• After a meeting with all political and social organisations in the Darjeeling hills, the GJM has decided to pull out of GTA.

• Thus, furthering the agitation for a separate statehood which has already became violent with the death of three agitators in police action.

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