Mediator holds out hope for trouble-torn Hills

DARJEELING: A path for solving the crisis in the Hills has been identified, according to interlocutor Lt-Gen (retd) Vijay Madan, who met Gorkha
Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders in Darjeeling on Thursday. The GJM leaders, on their part, assured the Centre and the state government that no disturbance would occur in the run-up to the December 21 tripartite meeting.
At the end of a 90-minute-long meeting at Mayfair Hotel, attended by GJM chief Bimal Gurung, general secretary Roshan Giri and party central committee leaders Amar Lama and L B Pariyar, Madan said talks on the demand for Gorkhaland have been fruitful.
“We are trying to find out steps for a way forward towards an acceptable solution. We are on some sort of a path now. An issue like this one can’t be solved overnight and hopefully we will have a roadmap by the time the tripartite meeting is held on December 21,” said Madan.
GJM leaders, too, expressed satisfaction with the talks. They would write to the Union home ministry, assuring it of peace in the Hills, they said. “We will maintain peace in the Hills and provide our cooperation in maintaining an environment conducive to talks,” said Gurung after the meeting. The possibility of including Siliguri on the proposed Gorkhaland map was also discussed at the meeting, said Giri.
Madan, on the other hand, said the Union government had no apprehension about disturbances in the Hills. “There is no fear of any trouble. It is the media that has been speculating about a possible flare-up. After this meeting, that should now be laid to rest,” said Madan.
On his role in the tripartite talks, the interlocutor said he would be a facilitator. “My job is to highlight the points on which the three sides have a consensus. It will also be my responsibility to help the parties reach an agreement on the contentious issues,” he added.

Madan visited the Dooars on Wednesday and met members of the local communities. “I met the tribals and Gorkhas. I wanted to survey their socio-economic conditions in person. The interaction was quite enlightening and I would include my observations in my report to the Union government.” Madan added that he was open to discussions with other parties as well, but none had approached him so far.

This is Madan’s second visit to the Hills in the last two months. He had visited Darjeeling on November 2 to meet GJM leaders. He will leave for Delhi on Friday.

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