Darjeeling unrest: GJM upset over West Bengal govt's response to GNLF for talks

Darjeeling (West Bengal): As the West Bengal government invited the GNLF for talks, a miffed GJM, which is spearheading the Gorkhaland stir, on Tuesday alleged it was an attempt to undermine it and the GMCC and said a dialogue can only be successful if the main stakeholders are included.

The GJM-led Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) comprising 30 hill parties including the GNLF is carrying out an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling which entered its 69th day.

File image of Gorkha leaders addressing people in Mirik. PTI

File image of Gorkha leaders addressing people in Mirik. PTI

"Responding to GNLF's appeal is nothing but an effort to undermine GJM and GMCC," GJM vice-president Kalyan Dewan told PTI.

He is also the convenor of GMCC.

"The Gorkhaland movement is led by GJM and it is GJM which has called the indefinite shutdown in the hills on for the last over two months. the GJM is also the main stakeholder of GMCC.

"So if the state government wants the talks to be fruitful, then it has to officially call GJM and GMCC for talks. GNLF may be a constituent of GMCC but it is not the main stake holder with whom talks can be held," he said.

Quickly responding to a Gorkha National Liberation Front(GNLF) proposal for talks to end the Darjeeling impasse, where the indefinite shutdown entered its 69th day, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday invited it for a discussion on 29 August.

"We have accepted the GNLF proposal for talks and called a meeting on 29 August at the state secretariat. We welcome all major political parties and development boards in the hills to the discussion for restoration of peace," Banerjee said.

The development comes a day after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the agitation in the hills for a separate state, requested the Centre and the West Bengal government to initiate talks at the earliest to restore peace in the area.

This was the first time that the GJM expressed its willingness to hold talks with the state government along with the Centre.

Reacting to the question whether the GNLF had tried to bypass the GMCC by writing to the state government on its own, Dewan said "GNLF did not discuss the matter in our GMCC meeting".

When contacted, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri expressed his displeasure over "GJM being bypassed by GNLF".

"We will let you know whether we will attend the meeting or not in the next 24 hours," he said.

The GMCC was formed on 20 June to chalk out the future course of action to achieve the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.

Meanwhile, the situation in the hills remained incident free during the day. The GJM took out rallies in various parts of the hills demanding the restoration of the internet services, which remain banned in the hills since 18 June, and an immediate withdrawal of police forces from Darjeeling.

Some political party activists dressed in traditional attire also took out rallies and raised slogans in support of Gorkhaland.

The GJM activists and NGOs were seen distributing food among the local people like other days as food supply has been severely hit in the prolonged shutdown.

Barring medicine shops, all other shops, business establishments, schools and colleges continue to be closed.

Updated Date: Aug 22, 2017 21:49 PM

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