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Tripartite meet only way to solve Gorkhaland crisis: Darjeeling district admin

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 27 June 2017, 20:58 IST
(AFP photo)

The West Bengal government is in a fix on how to resolve the impasse in the hills, after the Darjeeling district administration submitted a report stating that the only solution for resolving the Gorkhaland issue is to convene a tripartite meeting between the Centre, the state and Gorkhaland activists.

State government sources said it had already urged Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters to withdrew their indefinite strike and meet to resolve the impasse, but they only intensified their agitation and were unwilling to sit with the state government to resolve the issue.

As a result, the government is yet to take any concrete decision in this regard.

Sources said the report, which was submitted to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) on Tuesday, mentioned that some 'terrorist outfits' were helping the GJM to continue its movement in an aggressive manner, and with each passing day, the agitation was putting more and more pressure on the administration.

The report stated that the government should speak to the Centre on how to deal with the crisis, suggesting the deployment of additional Central forces in the hills, along with the state police force. This is because the agitation is evolving every day, and GJM supporters are finding new ways to clash with the police and keep the agitation going.

A senior government official said: “The report has suggested that the state government should again convene an all-party meeting and urge the GJM to participate in the meeting and voice its demands. It is essential for the government to first restore normalcy, before the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections, scheduled in the last week of July.”

Aggressive agitation continues

On Tuesday, GJM supporters held an aggressive rally at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling, where they smashed tubelights on each others' backs. They also burnt the GTA agreement, and urged all hill parties to boycott the GTA election.

Binoy Tamang, assistant general secretary of the GJM, said: “We will intensify our movement in the hills if the Centre does not look into our demand for Gorkhaland. We won't sit with the state government to resolve the impasse. The rally held by GJM supporters on Tuesday is just a token rally . In future, we may resort to hunger strikes, and may even self-immolate in support of our demand.”

Gautam Deb, minister in charge of the North Bengal Development Department, said: “It is unconstitutional that GJM supporters burnt the GTA agreement on Tuesday. They should speak to the state government immediately. I urge GJM supporters to withdraw their strike.”

Govt's next step

A meeting headed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee was held at the state government headquarters, Nabanna, on Tuesday, where it was decided that the team formed earlier will continue to oversee the situation in the hills. The state government will also write a letter to the Union Home Ministry, urging it to deploy more Central forces.

Meanwhile, the CID has been entrusted with the probe into the Singmari violence case, in which three GJM supporters were killed in Darjeeling a few days ago.

According to sources present at the meeting, the following points were also discussed:

1. There are some alternative routes through which people of the hills are getting their rations. The routes might be through Gorubathan in Kalimpong district, Sikkim and Nepal. There is no dearth of food, even after 15 days of strike.

2. The Gorkhas are suffering from a shortage of ammunition. They need five lakh rounds of bullets immediately. They have their arms stockpiled at Gorubathan and Sukhiapokhri in North Bengal, and Bhaktapur in Nepal.

3. The Gorkha movement has become more democratic, as there is now an attempt to gather support from different organisations.

4. The police will not go on the offensive if the movement stays peaceful. Central forces will back up the state police.

5. The police is now looking for one Anik Rai – a Gorkha Liberation Army area commander, who is now spearheading the movement. Ajay Daval, the founder of the GLA, is now in Bhaktapur, Nepal.

First published: 27 June 2017, 20:09 IST