CALCUTTA, Feb. 8, Reuter: The leader of India’s militant Gurkhas ordered his followers to begin a 40day general strike on Wednesday in support of their claim for a separate Gurkha State in West Bengal, a spokesman said.

Speaking by telephone from Darjeeling on Monday, he said Gurkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) President Subhash Ghising had announced on Sunday that Gurkhas in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling “must pre pare them-selves for the ultimate sacrifice for liberating themselves from the domination of Bengal”.

More than 100 people have died in the two year Gurkha agitation, according to official figures. Talks between the Indian and West Bengal governments and the GNLF deadlocked two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had earlier rejected the demand for a separate state and offered to place the three hill subdivisions under an elected autonomous hill council.

Ghishing’s statement asked his people “In the name of God, to sacrifice them-selves on the altar of the homeland’.

Police said Ghising’s call had “given an open license to the GNLF militants to create trouble”.

“We have information about a half suicide squad operating here,” ‘a senior police official said.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 12, 1988