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Separatist strike paralyses Darjeeling

BBC World Service, Monday 22 May 2000, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK

The tea-producing Darjeeling region of West Bengal has been paralysed by a one-day strike called by the Gorkha National Liberation Front to press demands for a separate Gorkha state.

The Front's leader Subhas Ghishing said his organisation was reviving its call for a Gorkha state, because Delhi had created three new states in India since the GNLF won greater autonomy thirteen years ago.

Mr Ghishing said his followers wouldn't resort to violence, though, and urged the West Bengal government to exercise restraint. The GNLF accepted an autonomous Gorkha council in Darjeeling in 1987.

In the neighbouring state of Assam, organisations representing the Karbi tribes have called for a two-day strike in support of their separatist bid.