Darjeeling unrest: Rajnath Singh urges Gorkhaland leaders, state govt to initiate dialogue

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh Sunday appealed to the leaders of the Gorkhaland statehood movement in Darjeeling to call off their agitation, and urged the West Bengal government to initiate dialogue with them, a Home Ministry official said.

During a two-hour meeting chaired by Singh in New Delhi on Sunday evening, the leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) submitted a memorandum to the Centre detailing their demands.

The home minister appealed to the leaders to call off the indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling, which entered its 60th day on Sunday. He also requested the leaders to end their hunger strike, the official said.

"I also appeal to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to initiate a dialogue with the GJM and other stakeholders of Darjeeling, who are on a strike for last 60 days.

In the meantime, the state government should restore all civil supplies and also restore Internet services, Cable TV and local channels," the statement said.

The home minister said he was concerned about the developments in Darjeeling and the loss of valuable lives and sufferings of the people in the last two months.

"Violence can never be a solution to any problem. In a democracy, solutions are always found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit," he said. Singh said every one is aware of the strategic importance of the locality and the challenges the region face. He added that a solution should be found, "keeping in mind the national interest, as well as in the interest of our Gorkha brothers and sisters, who are brave and large hearted people and have contributed immensely to nation building".

Singh appealed to the people of Darjeeling to display sensitivity, and also keep in mind their civic responsibilities. "No grievances and problems can be resolved without any dialogue," he said.

 Darjeeling unrest: Rajnath Singh urges Gorkhaland leaders, state govt to initiate dialogue

File image of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

The BJP's Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia also attended the meeting.

Swaraj Thapa, a leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is a part of the GMCC, said the home minister had told them that he was mindful of the sufferings of the people in Darjeeling. "We urged him to start the process for (creation of) a separate state. The state is suppressing our democratic movement," Thapa said.

The GJM leader said the home minister had appealed to them to end the agitation. "We will soon decide the future course of action," he said.

The GMCC, the apex body of the hill parties, had earlier said that it would continue the agitation for a separate state and sought the central government's intervention to break the logjam.

Two top leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has been ruling the autonomous hill council — Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri — did not attend Sunday's meeting.

Supplies of food and essentials were drying up due to the strike. Internet services have also been snapped in the hills since 18 June, when the agitation started in protest against the West Bengal government's decision to introduce Bengali as one of the subjects in schools in the hills.

Except medicine shops, all business establishments, schools and colleges remained closed in the hills. Police and security forces patrolled the streets in the hills and kept a vigil on the entry and exit routes.

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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2017 22:22:25 IST