Mamata meets with Gorkhaland agitators, agrees to push for tripartite talks
With the impasse in the hills yet to be resolved, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 12 September offered incentives for employees of Gorkha Territorial administration (GTA).
As of now, of GTA staff, casual workers and teachers of state-run schools join their duties by 15 September, the state government will pay a month's salary in advance.
It was also decided that the demand for the tripartite meeting with the Centre will be discussed later in the next all-party meeting scheduled on 16 October at Nabanna.
Tuesday‘s all party meeting at Uttarkanya in Siliguri was attended by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Jan Andolan Party, two members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) - Amar Singh Rai and Santa Rai. Expelled leader Binoy Tamang was also present, as was the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), which had abstained from a previous meeting at Nabanna.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung reportedly had instructed his supporters against attending the meeting. That is why Amar Singh Rai and Santa Rai presence at the meeting is raising speculation that Gurung's diktat may not be as strong as it used to be in the hills.
After the meeting, Amar Rai said, “We will speak with our leader Bimal Gurung and that the strike in the hills be withdrawn and normalcy be restored."
After convening the second all-party meeting, CM Banerjee said, “The meeting was fruitful and we urge all the employees to join their offices to restore normalcy in the hills. Before convening the tripartite meeting, it needs to be seen what the current status of the GTA is. If GTA has to be dissolved, then we need to consult with the legal experts and then with the Centre. As a result, we need some time to look at this administrative issues before convening a tripartite meeting”.
According to Banerjee, GJM has submitted a 17-point memorandum and have also demanded an enquiry into the IED blasts that occurred at Darjeeling a few days ago.
“I have assured all the hill parties that a high level enquiry team will investigate the matter that led to the IED blasts and the accused will be punished as early as possible. I have also assured that if GJM withdraws their bandh, I will consider withdrawing charges against their leaders by the state police, ” Banerjee added.
In the meeting, it was also decided that as students have faced trouble due to the ongoing strike, the state government will urge the VC’s of all universities to accept their admission forms even though the last date for submission of admission forms has already expired.
Even the state government will urge CBSE and ICSE boards to extend their admission and restore the state public distribution system as early as possible.
On behalf of GJM, expelled leader Binoy Tamang said: We do not want Taliban rule in the hills. We want democracy to be restored in the hills. We have submitted a 17-point deputation to chief minister Mamata Banerjee for restoring normalcy in the hills and she has accepted our demand for a tripartite talk. We have also urged her to withdraw all police cases against our leaders and supporters and we hope that as the dialogue process has already started, the state government will look into such issues. Even we have also urged her to restore the local television channels in the hills and also lift the suspension on internet services.”
The GJM also demanded land rights for the tea garden workers and also payment of bonus for the tea garden workers before the pujas and state government has already accepted the demands on Tuesday’s meeting.