Darjeeling unrest: GMCC urges Centre to begin dialogue to restore normalcy as shutdown reaches 59th day

Darjeeling (West Bengal): The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) Saturday urged the Centre to initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders to restore normalcy in Darjeeling hills, where an indefinite shutdown entered its 59th day.

File image of a protester during the unrest in Darjeeling. PTI

File image of a protester during the unrest in Darjeeling. PTI

The shutdown in the hills will continue until a "positive step" is taken to restore normalcy by the Centre, GMCC, apex body of 30 hill parties participating in the stir for a separate Gorkhaland, stated at an emergency meeting at Kalimpong.

"We urge the central government to initiate a dialogue process so that normalcy can be restored in the hills. If the state government is part of that process, we have no problems," GMCC convenor Kalyan Dewan told PTI after the meeting.

The committee condemned the recent arrests made by police and the area domination marches in the hills during the past few days.

Asked whether any decision had been taken on relaxing the shutdown on Independence Day, Dewan said, "It will be decided very soon after discussing it with all the hill parties and GJM president Bimal Gurung. But the people of the hills are patriots and we will celebrate Independence here. Every household will hoist the national flag and we will take out rallies carrying the tricolor".

Sources said sharp differences have cropped up between Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and other hill parties in the GMCC over continuing the indefinite shutdown.

Parties like Jan Andolan Party (JAP) of former GJM spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri which had earlier thrown its weight behind the protest and others are now in favour of withdrawing the shutdown in the hills, sources said.

The GMCC has 30 members representing all the hill-based parties, including the GJM, GNLF, JAP and Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh. The body is headed by a GJM member.

Darjeeling remained incident free as police and security personnel made special security arrangements in the hills. They are also maintaining a tight vigil to avoid any untoward incident.

The GJM took out rallies in various parts of the hills demanding restoration of internet services, which were banned in the hills since June 18, as well as immediate withdrawal of police from Darjeeling. With the food supply severely hit due to the shutdown, GJM activists and NGOs were seen distributing food among locals. Barring medicine shops, all other shops, business establishments, schools and colleges remained closed.

Updated Date: Aug 12, 2017 21:40 PM

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