WB CM appeals to GJM to negotiate without separate statehood demand

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Kolkata, Jun 10 (UNI) Reiterating his appeal to forego the separate statehood demand for Darjeeling, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to sit for negotiations for the sake of the region's development.

''I once again appeal to them to sit for dialogues without the demand for a separate state. If the present agitation continues, the development in the region will be stalled,'' the Chief Minister said.

Describing the Darjeeling situation as ''very bad'', Mr Bhattacharjee said government functioning in the Hills had already come to a halt and many tourists were stranded as a result of the GJM's indefinite strike call.

He said the state government had been in touch with the Centre following the development.

''Many domestic and foreign tourists are stranded. Some of them were evacuated yesterday while efforts are on to escort the rest down to the plains,'' he said.

Referring to the demand of the GJM, led by Mr Gurung, for bipartite or tripartite talks, the Chief Minister said the last time the GJM leaders had come to Kolkata to hold talks with him, they were categorically told that a separate state of Gorkhaland was not possible.

''I told them that it was not possible to accept the demand for a separate state, nor is it possible to accept areas like Dooars and Siliguri in the plains to be included in the proposed state,'' he said.

Meanwhile, more than a hundred activists had been arrested so far at Dooars area under Jalpaiguri district even as life remained paralysed throughout the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong for the second day today in response to the GJM's call for indefinite strike in support of Gorkhaland.

Besides, 15 people were injured in sporadic clashes that erupted late last night between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and Jana Chetana Mancha (JCM) activists at various areas under Bagdogra.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung told newspersons here today, ''The indefinite strike would continue until our demand of immediately holding a tripartite meeting with the Centre, West Bengal government and the Morcha leaders is met.'' Mr Gurung also informed that his party activists would launch a fast-unto-death at the Darjeeling More from 1200 hrs today to demand the formation of a separate state.

UNI KDG DPM BDP HT1920

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