No separate state for Gorkhas: Buddha

Kolkata: Though West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said that there would be no precondition for talks with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, the state government, a day before a crucial meeting with the GJM, today ruled out discussion on its separate statehood demand.
“There will be no discussion with the Morcha on the statehood demand, but talks can be held on administrative re-arrangements and greater autonomy (for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council),” Chief Secretary A K Deb told newsmen.
The chief minister after an all-party meeting on June 17 had said, “In my (earlier) letter to the GJM for talks, we had not set any precondition. We still do not have any precondition.” GJM President Bimal Gurung, when asked to react, told PTI from Darjjeeling that the party delegation in Kolkata would not seek a discussion on Gorkhaland, but stress on a tripartite meeting to resolve the Darjeeling issue.
“I have instructed the GJM delegation to stick to a one-point agenda to urge Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to take the initiative for tripartite talks,” Gurung said.
“The GJM demand covering Darjeeling district and the contiguous area of Dooars would be taken up at the tripartite meeting,” he said.
“We have only one aim, that is Gorkhaland. We are not interested in talks for more administrative powers for the hill council, or development of the hills,” he said.
The GJM chief said the meeting with the chief minister was a ‘courtesy call’ and statehood talks could only take place in the Centre’s presence.
The GJM delegation’s talks in Delhi with Union Home minister Shivraj Patil had been ‘positive’, he said.
Asked if the indefinite bandh in the hills, which has been relaxed till July five, would be relaxed further, Gurung said “If there is positive indication then we will think over it.” The indefinite bandh was called by GJM on June 16 but a 60-hour relaxation was given to the people from 6:00 pm of June 22, which was further extended till July 5.
Meanwhile, school students sat on relay hunger-strike in various parts of Darjeeling district to press for Gorkhaland.
Students from standard nine and above in batches of seven launched hunger-strikes from 10:00 am in front of the district magistrate’s office in Darjeeling, before the sub-divisional officer’s office at Kurseong, at Trikone in Kalimpong and in front of block development officer’s office at Mirik, superintendent of police Rahul Srivastav said.
“We are keeping a watch over the situation and handling it carefully as it is an emotional issue,” he said.
GJM press secretary Benoy Tamang told PTI that at least 20 batches of students were on hunger-strike at many places, including at Nepanea bustee in the plains area of Siliguri in the district. (sify)

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