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GJM, Hamro party ‘suspend’ 12-hr bandh in Darjeeling hills

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DARJEELING / KOLKATA, Feb 22 (PTI): The pro-Gorkhaland parties on Wednesday suspended the planned 12-hour bandh in Darjeeling hills on February 23 for the time being, citing the class 10 West Bengal board exams which are starting on that date.

The parties, however, maintained that they would continue to fight for the aspirations of the hill people.

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The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Hamro Party had on Tuesday called for a 12-hour strike in the Darjeeling hills on February 23 to protest a motion passed in the state Assembly opposing “attempts to divide the state”.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had promptly reacted stating she would not allow any “forcible shutdown” in the hills and had ordered the administration to take necessary steps to handle the situation.

“We have withdrawn our appeal for the 12-hour bandh for the time being as there is Madhyamik exam from February 23.

“We were getting feedback from various sections who said they support the demand of Gorkhaland but don’t want a shutdown as that might have an adverse impact on students,” Hamro party supremo Ajoy Edwards told PTI.

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Though Edwards claimed that the shutdown call had been withdrawn, Binay Tamang dubbed it as “suspension for the time being”.

The call for the 12-hour strike was given by Hamro Party’s Ajoy Edwards, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supremo Bimal Gurung, and Binay Tamang. The trio had recently joined hands to renew the demand for Gorkhaland.

“We suspended the proposed shutdown as several smaller outfits wanted to join us in our movement. We will soon launch a major movement in the hills,” Tamang, who left the TMC last year, told PTI.

Reacting to the development, TMC minister Udayan Guha said the “divisive forces” have backed out as they did not receive support from the people in the hills.

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“The TMC will never allow division of the hills,” Guha said.

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