Gorkhaland agitators meet Rajnath, request tripartite meeting

With Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee ruling out the state’s division, Gorkhaland supporters have once again appealed to Union home minister Rajnath Singh to initiate tripartite talks for Gorkhaland state.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2017 21:19 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Gorkhaland,Gorkha Janmukti Morcha,Darjeeling
Paramilitary forces stand guard along a road in Kalimpong. The north Bengal hills have been reeling under an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to demand a separate Gorkhaland state.(AFP)

Nearly a month after Union home minister Rajnath Singh appealed to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders of Darjeeling, an eight-member team of representatives of the hill parties met him again with the plea to start tripartite talks for the creation of a separate state.

“Raising the one point agenda of Gorkhaland, the delegation members requested the Union home minister to initiate the process of tripartite talks on statehood issue... Since the (Bengal) chief minister has already stated that the matter of statehood is not within ambit of the state government, the GJM members urged the Union home minister to initiate the process of tripartite talks,” the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) said in a press release.

The hills of north Bengal have been reeling under an indefinite shutdown that entered its 86th day on Friday. Ten people have died so far in the current phase of agitations for a separate state that started on June 8.

Although the home ministry did not issue any statement, members of the delegation claimed success. “The Union home minister told us that he had earlier spoken to Mamata Banerjee on this issue and would speak to her again and request her to call a tripartite meeting,” Arun Ghatani who represented the Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist in the meeting, said on phone from Delhi.

“The meeting was a success. Every meeting is a step ahead,” said Swaraj Thapa, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) central committee member.

On August 13, Rajnath Singh had told a team of agitators from the hills that they would have to hold talks with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has vowed not to allow a separate state to be carved out.

Read more: Gorkhaland stir: Rajnath appeals to Mamata to talk to stakeholders, agitators not convinced

The GJM representatives to meet Singh on Friday were Rohit Sharma (MLA Kurseong), Sarita Rai (MLA Kalimpong), Swaraj Thapa (central committee member), Roshan Giri (general secretary) and Ashok Lama (leader of Dooars). The other three were Arun Ghatani (Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist), Biplov Rai (Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League) and Dawa Pakhrin (Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha).

In a meeting between the representatives of GJM, Gorkha National Liberation Front and Jan Andolan Party at the state secretariat on August 29, Mamata Banerjee clearly said her government has no jurisdiction to discuss a separate state, and that she was opposed to it.

“The GJM members urged the Union home minister to speak to honourable chief minister of West Bengal and bring to a stop the continuous raids on GJM leaders and workers. Even today police disrupted a legitimate street corner public meeting in Darjeeling’s Chowk Bazar area and rained lathis on the crowd who had gathered. Tear gas shells were also fired...” read the GJM statement.

Referring to the earlier meeting with Rajnath Singh, the statement said, “The GJM had also called off indefinite hunger strike by Yuwa Morcha members on August 13, 2017 honouring the appeal of the Union home minister.”

Incidentally, senior GJM leaders including Bimal Gurung, facing charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act slapped by the state government, are believed to be in hiding somewhere in Sikkim.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 21:19 IST