Gorkhaland talks today in Delhi may end two month Darjeeling shutdown 

The Darjeeling hills have been paralysed by a strike demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee opposes.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2017 21:35 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Life has been paralysed in Darjeeling since June 15 when GJM called for an indefinite bandh after police raided the office and the residence of Bimal Gurung.(AFP)

The Centre’s move to intervene in the political impasse in the Darjeeling hills may be the end of a crippling shutdown of the hills that entered the 60th day of an indefinite bandh on Sunday.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh invited Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for talks in New Delhi at 4.30 pm on Sunday.

Though Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) is fighting for a separate state of Gorkhaland, it is unlikely the Centre would discuss the issue on Sunday. S S Ahluwalia the local MP said “A dialogue has to be opened to bring normalcy in the hills.”

Representatives from at least four political parties in the GMCC, including the GJM, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) and Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM) would attend the meeting. S S Ahluwalia, the Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling, would also participate.

GMCC is a platform of 14 political parties and organisations formed on June 29 to spearhead the movement for separate state of Gorkhaland.

“I am hopeful that the meeting would help find a possible road map to Gorkhaland statehood,” GJM president Bimal Gurung said. But sources in Delhi claimed that the main objective of Sunday’s meeting is to defuse the immediate crisis.

No political party is willing to risk unilaterally withdrawing from the bandh. And the Centre’s move to send its team to Darjeeling could provide breather to the agitating parties, said a source.

Life has been paralysed in Darjeeling since June 15 when GJM called for an indefinite bandh after police raided the office and the residence of Bimal Gurung. Eight persons have already lost their lives, allegedly to the bullets of police and security forces. The administration has banned internet from June 19.

With the Centre maintaining silence so far, the ongoing movement is leading nowhere even as the restlessness of the people has increased.

Both Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the Centre have been urging the agitating parties to withdraw the strike and bring normalcy before any talk begins. The GMCC, on the other hand, has been demanding the withdrawal of central and state police forces from the hills and immediate stoppage of raids and arrests.

According to sources, the chief minister who was in Delhi till Saturday might have given her consent to the Centre to call a meeting to defuse the crisis.

Arun Ghataney, a senior CPRM leader and Dawa Pakhrin the GRNM president, who will be attending the meeting on Sunday said the Centre’s initiative to convene a meeting would help to defuse the crisis.

Sources said the Centre is likely to send a union home ministry’s team to study the ground reality in Darjeeling hills and the announcement to this effect could be made after today’s meeting in the evening. This would help the GMCC and the GJM in particular to reach out to the public and announce the withdrawal of the strike after the Independent Day.

First Published: Aug 13, 2017 14:49 IST