Tribals block highway in Darjeeling against Gorkha agitation

Sukna (Darjeeling), July 27 : Tribals blocked a highway here on Saturday to protest against the frequent strikes called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), an organisation demanding a separate state called Gorkhaland.

Activists of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP - a tribal group), imposed a daylong road blockade as soon as the GJM suspended the road blockade in their strongholds uphill for 12 hours in their ongoing agitation for Gorkhaland.

The tribals said the GJM agitation disrupted normal life in the Terai region and demanded arrest of the culprits, allegedly belonging to GJM, who killed one of the tribal supporters.

"We want immediate arrest of culprits belonging to GJM who killed our supporter recently. Also we are very much bothered about the frequent strikes called by the GJM. They can carry out their strike in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong in any way they like. But in Terai they cannot do anything. This should be immediately stopped," said Rajesh Toppo, Secretary, ABAVP.

Earlier, the GJM, called a halt to project work of the National Hydroelectric power Corporation (NHPC) at Kalijhora.

The GJM says that the closure of the project is part of their movement and a way to put pressure on the Central Government, which they allege, does not pay heed to their demands.

The tripartite talks involving the West Bengal Government and the GJM is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on August 11.

Earlier, the Centre had proposed to hold the talks on August 24, but the GJM wanted it to be preponed.

The last tripartite meeting between the three sides took place on December 29 last year where it was decided to take forward the talks after the Lok Sabha polls.