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Cornered Bimal Gurung extends olive branch to 'expelled' leaders, says wrong time to bring up differences

Darjeeling : Days after expelling Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa from the party, GJM supremo Bimal Gurung on Wednesday urged the two to come back to the party-fold and unitedly fight for the cause of Gorkhaland. "Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa should come back to the party-fold and fight unitedly for the cause of Gorkhaland. The situation in the hills is not good, this is not the right time to let the opposition camp take advantage of the differences between us," said Gurung, against whom a look out notice has been issued by the West Bengal police, in an audio message from an undisclosed location.

 Cornered Bimal Gurung extends olive branch to expelled leaders, says wrong time to bring up differences

File image of Bimal Gurung. Getty Images

The development comes within a week after Gurung expelled Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa from the party for "violating" the party line and alleged anti-party activities. Tamang's announcement on 31 August that the indefinite shutdown in the hills would be suspended for 12 days from 1-12 September, did not go down well with Gurung.

Reacting to the GJM chief's appeal, Tamang said, "Instead of issuing statements from his secret hideout, he (Gurung) should come back to the hills and lead the movement. How can the people trust a person as their leader, if he runs away from the battlefield." After a near three-month shutdown, a large number of shops today reopened in the Darjeeling hills, braving threats and intimidation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

This came two days after shops and markets opened for business in Mirik and Kurseong sub-divisions in the hills. Though business establishments at Chowrasta and Chowkbazar remained closed, markets near the Darjeeling station reopened. Today, for the first time in the last 84 days, a minister of the state cabinet and a Trinamool Congress leader conducted a rally in the hills.

West Bengal Tourism Minister and senior TMC leader Gautam Deb urged the people to speak out against the "divisive politics" of GJM chief Bimal Gurung at his peace rally. "On Monday, shops had opened in Mirik and Kurseong. Today, this was replicated in Darjeeling. People are against the divisive politics of Gurung. They want peace and stability," he said.

Deb urged the people to help restore normalcy and peace in the hills where the GJM-sponsored indefinite strike entered the 84th day.

The TMC also distributed food among the people who had gathered in large numbers at the Gadidhura near Sukna. The GJM leadership, however, refused to comment on the rally. Two leaders of the GJM's women's wing 'Nari Morcha', Sabita Rai and Pompa Lama, joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) this morning. GJM treasurer of Rohini tea garden Bhimsen Oron along with 150 tea workers also joined the TMC, party sources said.

The search operation to trace absconding GJM chief Gurung, against whom cases have been lodged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), continued in the Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas.

Picketing by GJM supporters was strengthened in some areas, and posters and leaflets were distributed in support of the strike. Internet services in the hills have been suspended since
18 June.

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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2017 22:25:20 IST

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