GJM Leader Bimal Gurung withdraws hunger strike due to health conditions; was taken to STNM Hospital, Gangtok.
Bimal Gurung’s fifth day of hunger strike on Sunday marked by high drama; leaders of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, held a meeting with visiting BJP leaders and its hill allies in Darjeeling. Gurung was rushed to STNM in Sikkim, today and has been admitted there.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Friday urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to look into their demands of postponing the election to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), which administers the Darjeeling Hills, and expand its jurisdiction as the hunger strike of party chief Bimal Gurung entered the third day.
Gurung has been on hunger strike at the GJM’s office in Singamari in Darjeeling since Wednesday.
“Bimal-ji is fighting for the rights of the people of the Hills. His indefinite hunger strike entered its third day, and it will continue to press for the inclusion of 396 mouzas in the jurisdiction of GTA,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told PTI.
“I have written a letter to the chief minister, requesting her to look into it personally,” he added.
The West Bengal government on Friday issued a notification, announcing the GTA polls on 26 June.
After 104 hours of hunger strike, which he started to press for demands such as provisions in the 2011 GTA memorandum of agreement be implemented in letter and spirit and 396 mouzas from plains be included within the GTA before elections are held, at around 6 pm on Sunday May 29, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung was admitted at the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital, thereby breaking the fast unto death. Fast deteriorating health conditions led to this decision, stated party leaders. In the evening, Gurung was admitted to the Darjeeling district hospital.
“The fast was withdrawn owing to health conditions. Doctors had stated that he has to be immediately admitted at the Hospital as his heart and kidney has been affected. Since yesterday the Doctors have been advising this. Despite repeated appeals, Gurung was not willing. The doctors could refer him elsewhere. We want the best of the best treatment for him and want to take him out of Darjeeling,” Roshan Giri, General Secretary, GJM told The Telegraph.
As Bimal Gurung’s fast unto death had crossed more than 72 hours, Bengal Minister of State for Backward Classes Welfare and Tribal Development department, Bulu Chik Baraik arrived in Darjeeling, requesting Gurung to withdraw the fast.
His fast unto death demanding the deferment of GTA polls and asking the State government to initiate dialogues to resolve various issues pertaining to the GTA. “With the election notification, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has come into force. Under such conditions the Government cannot initiate dialogue. I request Bimal Gurung to withdraw the hunger strike. As soon as the process of election is over, the process of dialogue will be initiated. If the strike continues and the Government cannot hold dialogue (owing to the MCC) things will only get more complicated,” the minister had stated.
However, Gurung did not withdraw the fast. Meanwhile, his health condition deteriorated late in the evening of Thurday. Medical officers were called in from the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital to the site of the hunger strike at the Singamari motor stand. The visiting Medical Officer stated that Gurung’s condition is critical and suggested immediate hospitalisation.
“He has severe dehydration and is suffering from muscle cramps. There is blood in the urine. His blood pressure is falling. He needs immediate fluid and needs cardiac attention. He has to be admitted in the hospital immediately. He could have cardiac arrest,” stated the Medical Officer. GJM supporters also requested him to end the fast. However, he refused to be admitted at the hospital.
The elections to the GTA were last held in 2012. The GJM had swept the polls, winning all 45 seats.
The GJM has been demanding postponement of the election until the Memorandum of Proposal (MoP) submitted by it is implemented. Among others, it demands the inclusion of 396 mouzas in the GTA and transfer of some departments.
“We have appealed to Bimal Gurung to lift the fast and are hopeful that he will do so. His 5 days of fast will not go to waste. He has united the Gorkhas. The BJP and allies will not participate in this election. GTA cannot fulfill the aspiration of the Gorkhas. The Union Government will definitely come out with a constitutionally guaranteed political solution,” Raju Bista had then stated, talking to media persons.
GJMM Supremo G was rushed to Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) Hospital in Gangtok, Sikkim on Monday, with his party supporters believing that the Sikkim Government hospital to have better facilities.
GJMM Assistant General Secretary Priyavardhan Rai speaking with the local media in Gangtok, shared, “Due to the hunger strike his health has deteriorated, there is high chances of his health condition going severe. His urinating blood currently, that we feel is very serious. To get an aid in concerns of nephrology and urology, we have come here”.
Talking of Gurung’s medical condition, Rai shared, “There is high chances of him going into a cardiac arrest. There is a lot of blood discharge from his urine. He is getting body cramps, his oxygen level has dropped down to 80. Hence we are in a rush to get him treated”.
On being asked why Gurung was not taken to Siliguri with bigger hospitals and nursing homes, AGS Rai shared, “We have been saying this time and again, that him being brought to Sikkim shouldn’t be seen otherwise. It is being seen from a political perspective. Even in the past, the multi speciality hospital here in Sokeythang, Sikkim, the kind of facilities that we get here, all (medical) departments here are ready to co-operate. There is no hospital with as much facility as this. People in Sikkim must be proud that they have not realised the facility that they have. From a distance we are the ones singing praise for the hospital. Hence knowing that the hospital will be ideal for him, we brought him here”.
On being asked if the party sees a threat on Gurung’s life if taken to Siliguri, the GJMM general secretary asserted. “It’s not about the security threat. If we feel it is right, we would take him to Kolkata itself. It’s the heart of Bengal. After the 2017 (Gorkhaland) agitation, in 2019-20, he visited Kolkata and made many resounding addresses. So there is no fear here. Whenever Darjeeling had faced difficulties in the past, any trouble or any form of protest for our communities, Sikkim has always stood for us. Even in 1986 andolan, former Chief Minister late Bar Bahadur Bhandari extended support to us. We will never forget that. Hence we have a lot of belief in Sikkim”.
The general secretary highlighted how many central leaders and Tribal Affairs Ministry officials, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista and various legislators have come to visit Gurung in Darjeeling.
STNM Hospital is yet to release details of Gurung’s medical condition.
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