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Gorkhaland stir: GJM leaders divided over meeting Mamata on Aug 29

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders held a crucial meeting in Darjeeling on Friday and appeared divided over attending the peace talks convened by the Bengal chief minister in Kolkata.

kolkata Updated: Aug 25, 2017 22:55 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
Gorkhaland,Mamata Banerjee,Gorkha Janmuukti Morcha
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been able to organise roadblocks and bandhs because the hill people support the demand for a separate state for Indian Gorkhas. (HT File Photo)

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Friday failed to decide whether it would attend the all-party meeting convened by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on August 29.

At the end of a crucial meeting held in Darjeeling, GJM leaders heading the two-month-long agitation in support for a separate state appeared confused and divided.

Though Banerjee said on Thursday that GJM national coordinator Benoy Tamang had sent her a letter saying he would attend the meeting, Tamang claimed on Friday he did not write to the chief minister. In the same breath he also claimed that GJM leaders had decided to attend the meeting. Though Tamnag denied it, sources in the party told HT that he had written to the chief minister.

Read: Let’s talk only on Gorkhaland: Bimal Gurung; Mamata Banerjee says she didn’t get mail

The leadership on Friday also failed to reach a conclusion on the ongoing strike which has crippled life in the Darjeeling hills for more than 70 days. The north Bengal hills are under a record-breaking phase of shutdown that began on June 15 after a police raid on GJM office in Darjeeling. Internet services have been suspended since June 19.

Women have taken part in the ongoing agitation in large numbers, a phenomenon not seen in the 1980s when Gorkha National Liberation Front started the first militant movement in the hills. (HT File Photo)

Incidentally, there have been explosions - mostly caused by improvised devices or IEDs - in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Sukhiapokhri and Peshak since the intervening midnight of August 18 and 19. The explosion in Kalimpong police station killed a civic police volunteer.

Significantly, the explosions started after hill party leaders met Union home minister Rajnath Singh at his residence in Delhi on August 13. Singh asked the agitators to start a dialogue with the state government. The Centre’s decision was seen as a ‘betrayal’ by most of the Gorkha leaders as GJM was an ally of the BJP in two consecutive Lok Sabha elections. It had hoped that the Centre would help Gorkhas realise their dreams of a separate state.

Read:When Indian Idol Prashant Tamang was called a chowkidar & Darjeeling erupted

Though the meeting convened by Mamata Banerjee has been scheduled at 4 pm on August 29, there is utter confusion on which parties from the hills are going to attend.

On Thursday, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist held a rally in Darjeeling and said the party would not join the talks to discuss peace and development. The party wants only Gorkhaland.

Read: Mamata toughens stance against Gorkha leaders as strike takes toll on Darjeeling

While GJM president Bimal Gurung has claimed to have written a letter to the chief minister asking that talks on a separate state should begin soon, the chief minister did not admit receiving the letter.

The chief of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), the second biggest party in the hills, has written to the chief minister seeking a dialogue, following which the meeting has been scheduled. Significantly, the letter from GNLF did not mention the Gorkhaland issue.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 22:55 IST