New Delhi: Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh on Dec. 11 said the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland was "valid" and added that if "legitimate demands" were met then violence would not be an option.
"If legitimate and valid demands are met in time, then there is no need for protests or violent protests for that matter," Jaswant Singh told reporters. The former foreign minister pointed out that Gorkhaland is an "old and valid demand". "This demand has been there since 1907," he said. On Dec. 10, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which has been spearheading the movement for a Gorkhaland state to be carved out of northern West Bengal, had announced the start of a hunger strike and shutdown from December 14-17.
"We don't want to divide the state; we will give our view when the matter comes up for discussion", Trinamool Congress leader, Mamata Banerjee told reporters. GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters: "Gorkhaland is an old demand and the centre must consider it as they have done in the Telangana issue". The government in 2005 conferred the Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), ensuring greater functional autonomy to the governing body. The demand for a Gorkhaland state grew louder in the wake of the central government giving the nod for a separate Telangana state to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh.