But state and central government offices and those of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council will be forced shut from Monday.
On June 22, the Morcha had relaxed its indefinite strike till July 5 after a six-day bandh, citing “instability” in Delhi over the nuclear deal.
Today, it cited its own programmes for the move. “An all-faith prayer meeting is scheduled to be held at Chowrastha every day from July 7 to August 7. As the meeting is for peace and Gorkhaland, we have decided not to disturb it. Our agitation will remain suspended till August 7,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
Observers said the Morcha leadership realised the Centre had neither the time nor the inclination to discuss Gorkhaland when the general election was due in less than a year.
Nonetheless, the party faxed a message to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee this morning requesting him again to arrange a tripartite meeting, along with the Centre.
Bhattacharjee had earlier ruled out talks on Gorkhaland while expressing the desire to give more financial and administrative powers to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
Lest the agitation lose steam with the breather, Giri thundered: “We shall close down all state and central government offices starting this Monday.”
He also threatened to stop construction at the hydel and thermal power corporation plants in the hills, though observers said it was unlikely to have any effect as the Morcha lacked influence there.
Most Morcha leaders publicly said the decision to shut down government offices was part of their “civil disobedience movement”, but central committee member Amar Lama was candid: “It was necessary to keep the momentum of the agitation going. We need the momentum.”
The decision to put off the indefinite strike was taken by the central committee.
Hill residents also breathed easy today with the Morcha saying only its committee leaders needed to replace their WB (West Bengal) car number plates with GL (for Gorkhaland). It had earlier said all vehicles in the proposed Gorkhaland area should change their plates by July 7.
Observers believe the change in decision was largely taken to avoid a confrontation with the state government.
Morcha sources admitted that many of their supporters were apprehensive about the legal implications of changing car number plates. (The Telegraph)
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