Gorkhaland: Didi meets hill parties; it’s still a stalemate

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 29, 2017

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee chairs a meeting on initiating talks with Darjeeling’s hill parties, in Kolkata, on Tuesday   -  Bikas Das

The West Bengal government on Tuesday appealed to Gorkhaland leaders to withdraw their indefinite strike and restore normality in the Darjeeling hills.

However, the stand-off continues, with the Gorkha leaders yet to announce any decisive step.

Since June this year, the hill parties have renewed their call for a separate Gorkhaland State. The indefinite shutdown in the region has crossed 75 days, making it the longest such in the region. Internet services remain suspended from June 19. With tea gardens remaining shut, plucking activities — for the premium second flush — have also stopped.

It was at a meeting between the State government and three major hill parties — the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Jan Andolan Party — that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made her appeal.

A second meeting has been called on September 12.

“The process of dialogue has begun. We made a humble submission and have appealed to the hill parties to restore peace and normality in the region. The people there are inconvenienced. Let the hill parties decide,” Banerjee told reporters.

Banerjee, however, did not mention whether internet services would be restored any time soon.

The ball is now in the court of the hill parties. They are, however, yet to decide on their future course of action.

The matter will be taken up by the central committees of the respective parties and also by the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) — the apex body of all hill parties that has been spearheading the movement.

“We are not alone in this movement. The GJM’s Central Committee will take a call and so will the GMCC,” Binay Tamang, spokesperson, GJM, said.

The GJM, on its part, has stuck to the demand for Gorkhaland and also submitted a charter of demands to the State government.

Incidentally, the State government has clearly maintained that the issue of a separate Statehood is “not on the agenda”. The Bengal government has always been opposed to the idea of a separate Statehood.

Published on August 29, 2017
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