Teachers ask, kids volunteer for fast

Darjeeling, June 26: Seven Class IX boys started a relay hunger strike here today and hundreds of schoolchildren brought out rallies across the Darjeeling hills even as the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha tried to justify the role of students in the movement for a separate state.
All seven are from Municipal Boys’ High School and will be on fast till 11am tomorrow when the next batch takes over. They reiterated what the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been harping for some time.
“If we get Gorkhaland, our future will be better. The situation in Bengal is hopeless,” said 16-year-old Laxman Prasad in front of the district magistrate’s office where the fast is going on.
The protesters, all within the 16-19 age group, considered themselves “lucky” for having been selected for the agitation.
“Our teachers asked us who all wanted to take part in the hunger strike. Quite a lot of us volunteered. We were selected for the first batch and another group from our school has been chosen for another day. I am lucky to have got a chance to fast for Gorkhaland,” said Prasad.
Students from different schools will take turns in groups of seven to participate in the relay hunger strike in Darjeeling till July 5 as announced by Bimal Gurung, the president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Simultaneous fasts will also be held in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik.
The students claimed that they had the support of their parents. “My mother who depends on my father’s pension supported my decision. I am part of the hunger strike because this is a question of my identity too,” said 16-year-old Prasit Rai, who comes from Badamtang tea garden, 15km from Darjeeling town.
The Vidyarthi Morcha, which is spearheading the agitation, justified the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s decision to involve the students in the hunger strike. “The Gorkhaland we are talking about is for these children. They must be aware of the demand. Fruits given on a platter does not have much charm. All agitation, including the country’s freedom movement, has seen active involvement of students,” said Keshav Raj Pokhrel, secretary of the Vidyarthi Morcha.
Pokhrel also cited the example of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union in creating Jharkhand.(The Telegraph)

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