GJM ends 104 day strike in Darjeeling
Darjeeling, September 26, 2017: After an endless wait finally the BJP led Union Government decided to bail out ally Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and its Chief Bimal Gurung from the ongoing impasse.
A Union Home Ministry release assured GJM that talks will be held within a fortnight to discuss "all related issues" thereby providing Gurung the much sought after political space to lift the ongoing indefinite bandh that touched the 104th day mark on Tuesday. Gurung took no time to declare the lifting of the bandh from 6am on Wednesday.
A press release from the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday stated that Minister Singh has appealed to the GJM to withdraw the ongoing bandh in the Darjeeling Hills.
The appeal by the Union Home Minister states "On the call of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) an indefinite strike is currently on in the Darieeling Hills since 12-06-2017.
Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and the entire people of Darjeeling hills have suffered a lot since the strike. I have been pained immensely by what has happened in Darjeeling hills.
In a democracy, dialogue is the only way out to resolve any problem. Solutions can be found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit.
I have asked the Home Secretary to convene an official level meeting in the Home Ministry within a fortnight to discuss all related issues. I also appeal to the GJM and its leader Shri Bimal Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh and to help create a conducive atmosphere for allowing normalcy to return to the area, particularly in view of the festive season."
Soon after the release, Gurung through an audio clip dispatched from an undisclosed location appealed to open up shops, schools, offices and ply vehicles from 6am on Wednesday.
"There are 11 martyrs. Their supreme sacrifice will not go in vain. I will never betray the cause. Owing to their sacrifice the Union Home Ministry has called us to the table to work out a solution. Just to create a conducive atmosphere we are lifting the bandh for a few days" stated Gurung.
Gurung claimed that he has never wavered from the path of democratic agitation. "Yet there are some who have conspired to frame me. May Goddess Durga grant good sense to the two who have drifted away from us" stated Gurung in an oblique remark without naming rebel GJM leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa.
Incidentally Gurung has been implicated in a number of cases and has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA.) A Look Out notice has been issued in his name along with an arrest warrant. Gurung has gone underground.
With the renewed agitation for Gorkhaland an indefinite bandh had been clamped in Darjeeling and Kalimpong by the GJM.
Despite repeated requests by the GJM seeking intervention by the Union Government into the ongoing impasse, the Union Government failed to respond.
Multiple meetings between Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and GJM teams saw Singh pushing the ball in the West Bengal Government's court. He stated that as Home is a State subject Mamata Banerjee would have to decide on the matter.
With the seemingly endless bandh, frequent clashes between the agitators and the security forces, spate of arrests and no solution in sight a group of leaders within the GJM opted for the middle path. The stated that the bandh would have to replaced by other forms of agitation.
Finally the GJM suffered a vertical split with the Bimal Gurung and Binay Tamang factions emerging. While Tamang was for the lifting of the bandh, Gurung decided to continue.
The West Bengal Government was quick to nominate Tamang along with GJM central committee member Anit Thapa to lead a Board of Administrators to run the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
Tamang and Thapa launched a campaign to lift the bandh which they claimed had yielded no results whatsoever except for causing immense public suffering.
The battle then shifted from Gorkhaland to a war of might as to who would call the shots regarding the lifting of the bandh.
Gurung was quick to declare Tamang and Thapa as agents of Bengal and appealed for the enforcement of the bandh till the Union Government called for tripartite talks on Gorkhaland.
With the district administration issuing strictures to open up Government offices and schools and with taxis starting to ply painted a picture of normality. Banks along with some shops also opened up.
Gurung issued a diktat that till the Centre called for tripartite talks on Gorkhaland the bandh would not be lifted.
Finally the call for talks arrived but Singh failed to mention the nature of talks (bipartite/ tripartite) along with who all would participate in the talks. As in the past, there is no mention of "Gorkhaland" with the Minister preferring "all related issues."
Already normality was returning to Darjeeling. Gurung would have lost face if the town would have totally opened up. It is at this point that the Union Government finally stepped in.