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Gorkhaland unrest: GJM divided ahead of meeting with Mamata Banerjee

GJM President Bimal Gurung says said he wants discussion only on Gorkhaland, while GJM leader Binay Tamang, who is leading the five-member team, says they won’t go to the table with “a closed mind”.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2017 07:27 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Gorkhaland,Gorkhaland unrest,GJM
Supporters of the Gorkhaland movement chant slogans an indefinite strike at Milanmore village in Darjeeling district.(AFP Photo)

Hours before Gorkhaland agitators’ scheduled meeting with the Mamata Banerjee government, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the most important political party in the hills, appears to be divided on what to demand from the government.

While its president Bimal Gurung, who has been accused under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, in two cases, has said he wants discussion only on Gorkhaland, GJM leader Binay Tamang, who is leading the five-member team, made it clear they won’t go to the table with “a closed mind”.

The talks can pave the way for normalcy in the hills of north Bengal which have witnessed bandh since June 15. Internet services remain discontinued since June 19. The CM has vowed she won’t allow a separate state to be carved out of West Bengal.

“The agenda should only be Gorkhaland. If that does not happen, hill leaders should walk out of the meeting. If they do not discuss Gorkhaland, they will not be allowed to return to the hills,” said Gurung in an audio clip circulated on the night of August 27.

He said that the letter GJM leaders sent to the state government expressing willingness to join the August 29 meeting was written without consulting him. “These leaders are conspiring against me and the cause of Gorkhaland only to fulfil their vested interests. People should come out on the roads to oppose them,” he said in the clip.

Tamang said his team will put forth the demands and see what the government’s opinion is. “Gorkhaland is our primary demand. We will also discuss the impasse in the hills for which people are suffering,” Tamang told HT before leaving Kolkata for the meeting. He also described as “unfortunate” Gurung’s allegation that he was not being kept in the loop.

Besides GJM, Gorkha National Liberation Front, which had led a violent agitation for a separate state in 1986 and 1988, will also join the meeting. So will Jan Andolan Party and representatives of the 15 development boards in the hills.

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 07:27 IST