Gorkha group ignores govt’s olive branch | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Gorkha group ignores govt’s olive branch

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Monday began to enforce an indefinite strike in the north of West Bengal on Monday. The strike was called even as the Centre offered to hold talks with the state government and the protesters to discuss the latter’s demand for a separate Gorkha state.

delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2009 00:49 IST
HT Correspondents

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Monday began to enforce an indefinite strike in the north of West Bengal on Monday. The strike was called even as the Centre offered to hold talks with the state government and the protesters to discuss the latter’s demand for a separate Gorkha state.

The strike was called after the police used force to disperse a rally organised the Gorkha Janmukti (GJM) last week. While the strike has forced tourists to cut short their visit to Darjeeling, shops were crowded with local residents, who rushed to stock up essential items.

But the thousands of students who come from far-off places to study at the many well-known boarding schools in the area were the worst hit. Protesters have ordered that the schools be shutdown and boarders be evacuated.

Although, vehicles were allowed to ply on the first day of the strike, the protesters plan to block the national highway connecting the hills to the plain from Tuesday.

The West Bengal government has in the past refused to negotiate the demand for Gorkha state. But an official in the Union Home Ministry said the central government has suggested August 24 as a possible date to hold tripartite talks with GJM.

“The Centre also told the state government to communicate the message to the GJM,” said the official who did not want to be named, said.

He added that the formal letter conveying the proposed date was sent last week. But no response has come yet, from the government of West Bengal because they realise that the GJM would not budge from its stand for statehood.