ILAM, June 11: Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is known for its campaigns for creating a separate state of 'Gorkhaland' within India, has decided to intensify its language protests in various places of India's West Bengal state.
By doing so, GJM hopes it will aid in its movement and efforts to form a separate Gorkhaland state. GJM's meeting on Saturday evening decided various protest programs, including general strikes.
“As a part of our protests, locals will hit the streets every Thursday and Friday and chant slogans for Gorkhaland. We have made the demand for Gorkhaland as our one-point agenda because the government of India attempted to oppress us through the medium of language,” informed Roshan Giri, general secretary of GJM, adding that all their protest programs will be solely directed toward the demand of Gorkhaland state.
Saturday's meeting started at 11 am and ended at 7 pm in the evening. Along with other protest plans, the meeting also decided to enforce shutdown of every government office of West Bengal from Monday. Likewise, they have decided to let banks open only on Mondays and Thursdays.
Besides that, GJM plans to hold torch rally every Monday as well as to hold an all-party meeting on June 13. Their protest plan also includes writing signboards in Nepali language. “We, however, have not planned to take our protests in bazaar, roads and schools,” informed Giri.
GJM's Chairman Bimal Gurung, who is also chief of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), confirmed that their focus would be solely on 'Gorkhaland' agenda.
Nepali speakers in West Bengal took to the streets after the administration forcefully made Bengali language as the state's third language. Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Mirik along with other areas of West Bengal had organized general strike on Friday. The situation remained normal on Saturday. Some of the private schools that had remained closed on Friday due to the protests have opened on Saturday.
In West Bengal, three languages used to be taught in schools as optional subjects.
Locals whose first language is Nepali can take second language as English or Hindi. As a third language, they had choice to learn Bengali, Urdu, Tibetan or other languages.
However, the administration made Bengali compulsory for all as the third language. The infuriated Nepali-speakers, who form majority of population in Darjeeling and other places of West Bengal, have since been protesting against the decision.