|“Discussions should be at an official level, at least for now”|
KOLKATA: The West Bengal Government has informed the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership that it is willing to discuss the issue of a separate Gorkhaland State as demanded by the latter “along with all its implications” at the forthcoming tripartite talks proposed by the Centre but the discussions should be at an official level, at least for now.
In a letter on Tuesday to GJM president, Bimal Gurung, the State Home Secretary, Ardhendu Sen, repeated the government’s request to withdraw the indefinite bandh called by the GJM leadership that entered its ninth day in the Darjeeling hills.
Only if the agitation is called off could future talks be meaningful, the State Government had earlier pointed out.
The letter was in response to the GJM leadership’s seeking clarifications regarding the status of the tripartite talks proposed by the Centre that is to be held in New Delhi on August 11. The discussions had earlier been slated for August 24.
It stated that the State Government felt that the talks should be held at the official level as more ground needed to be cleared before the discussions could be taken up at the political level as demanded by the GJM leadership earlier, Surendra Gupta, District Magistrate, Darjeeling, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.
There where some indications after a meeting of the GJM leadership in Darjeeling in the evening that in view of the developments it could consider calling off later this week the indefinite bandh in support of its demand for a separate State.
The State Government has been considering the deployment of central paramilitary forces in the event of a protracted bandh.
The response of the State Government to the clarifications sought by the GJM leadership in regard to the tripartite talks was satisfactory, GJM sources said.
Leaders of the GJM have been insisting that its demand for Gorkhaland State be the sole issue for discussions at the proposed tripartite talks. Normal life in the hills was paralysed during the day with shops, commercial establishments and offices remaining closed. Vehicles were off the road.
The GJM leadership announced that the stretch of the National Highway 31A passing through the Darjeeling hills would henceforth be open to traffic and all blockades removed. The highway links Sikkim to the plains. It had earlier decided that vehicles registered in Sikkim would be allowed to ply. (The Hindu)
Filed under: Gorkhaland