GJM in two minds about reimposing bandh in Hills

Kartyk Venkatraman

Kolkata, July 4 Three weeks into its confrontation, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) appears to be vacillating between a pacifist attitude towards the state and Centre and a hardline stance to retain the masses.

In a statement issued on Friday, party general secretary Roshan Giri said for now, the GJM would not push for tripartite talks involving the Centre, which is caught up in resolving the standoff with the Left over the nuclear deal.

At a public meeting in Darjeeling on Thursday, GJM leaders were full of praise for the “warmth” shown by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during last week’s meeting in Kolkata.

The Darjeeling district administration, on its part, has indicated its willingness to play down the standoff.

The approach of both sides has changed after the Supreme Court’s July 3 directive, asking all involved, especially the state government, to keep the NH-31A free of blockade.

Senior GJM leader Binay Tamang told The Indian Express that the SC directive will not affect a total bandh again from July 6, if such a decision is taken at the party’s central working committee meeting on Saturday. “It was the Sikkim government that went to the SC over the highway blockade,” he said. “Our bandh, if resumed, will encompass the NH-31A as well. If the government tries to break our bandh and violence erupts, the Sikkim government will be responsible.”

Sources in the party, however, said there is a rethink on the bandh among the senior leadership following the SC directive.

“We think the bandh will not be reimposed. If at all it is, the highways will not be touched, government offices may shut down,” a party leader said.

Issuing a warning about the July 7 deadline for changing all vehicle registration plates from “WB” to “GL” (Gorkhaland), Tamang said: “Any violence resulting from trying to stop vehicles with GL numberplates will be the Bengal government’s responsibility.”

District Magistrate Rajesh Pandey is in Kolkata for a meeting with the CM and senior leaders, said sources in Darjeeling district administration.

“The indications are that there will not be a total crackdown on vehicles bearing GL numberplates, although such numberplates will be violating the Motor Vehicles Act. It could be a way for both sides to save face and avoid a confrontation,” an official said. (Expressindia)

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