New Delhi/Siliguri: Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghising, who gave birth to the Gorkhaland movement, Thursday passed away at a hospital in New Delhi following prolonged illness. He was 79.
"Ghising was undergoing treatment at Sir Gangaram Hospital. He died this afternoon (Thursday). His body will be taken to Siliguri (in West Bengal) for the final rituals Friday," GNLF central committee member Prakash Dahal said.
Ghising was suffering from several diseases including liver related disorders since September 2014 and was moved to New Delhi after his condition deteriorated.
In New Delhi, hospital sources said Ghising was admitted to the hospital five days back and was being treated for cirrhosis of liver. He had been admitted to the hospital with a similar problem two months back, they said.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as well as the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist mourned his death and offered condolence to the bereaved family.
Ghising, a former soldier, led a prolonged violent struggle in the 1980s for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of north Bengal's Darjeeling district, before signing an agreement Aug 22, 1988 with the central and state governments for creation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), an autonomous governing body for the hills. He chaired the DGHC till 2008.
He lived-in-exile from the hills after his GNLF was sidelined in early 2008 by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that spearheads the movement now. He, later, returned to the hills in 2011.
Born June 22, 1936 in Darjeeling, Ghising, who was vocal on issues concerning the hills, formed a political outfit - Nilo Jhanda - in 1968 to further the cause.
He raised the demand for a separate state for the Nepali-speaking people of the Darjeeling hills for the first time in April 1979. He subsequently formed the GNLF in 1980 to achieve statehood.