The protest movement -- now entering into its ninth day and showing no signs of resolution -- is centered around the tea producing region of Darjeeling, in West Bengal, home to the country's largest concentration of ethnic Gorkhas.
As many as three people have been killed and up to 60 injured, in ongoing clashes between protestors and local paramilitary forces. Earlier this week, military troops were drafted into the region in a bid to help quell tensions, which have hurt the region's tea and tourist industries.
The protests are part of a wider regional strike as called for by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) -- an ethno-nationalist political party spearheading the statehood movement -- that has seen the local economy paralyzed, as workers abandon their posts and take to the streets in their thousands.
Darjeeling, a popular tourist destination in India, is best known for its sprawling tea gardens, lush green hills and panoramic views of snow-clad mountain ranges. Hundreds of Indian and foreign tourists have fled the area since the unrest began.
On Friday protestors offered a 12-hour window for more than 7,000 boarding school students to safely evacuate the hills -- home to some of the best boarding schools in India. Father Divya Annandam, Vice Principal at St Josephs School, told CNN some school dormitories are already facing food shortages.
The crisis started in mid-May when the government of West Bengal, the Eastern Indian state of which Darjeeling is a part, made Bengali language courses compulsory in schools across the state.
The government's decision was viewed with hostility among the area's Nepali-speaking community.
"We are very different from the rest of the state of West Bengal. Our language, our tradition, our culture, our heritage, our geographical condition, it doesn't match with rest of the state, with the whole other population of West Bengal," Roshan Giri, Secretary General of GJM told CNN.
"For Gujratis, they have Gujrat, for Biharis, they have Bihar, for Punjabis, they have Punjab...why not Gorkhaland for Gorkhas?" Giri questioned.
But what started as an agitation against a change in the school curriculum quickly escalated into a revival of a century-old demand for a separate state for the Indian Gorkhas, the original inhabitants of the area.
Activists claim as many as three protestors died in "indiscriminate police firing" on Gorkhaland supporters on Saturday, a claim that the police have denied.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed "to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful." He urged the protestors to not resort to violence and resolve the issue through mutual dialogue.