Gurung wants Gorkhaland bandh to continue even as Mamata claims breakthrough
Darjeeling, August 29: While all the sides attending the meeting at Nabannya, the West Bengal Secretariat, declared unanimously that the process of dialogue has been initiated thus dubbing the meeting as fruitful, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Chief Bimal Gurung stated that the ongoing indefinite bandh should continue till the Gorkhaland issue is
discussed a meeting with the Government.
An hour long meeting was held at Nabannya on Tuesday chaired by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and attended by representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM,) Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Jan Andolan Party (JAP) along with the Trinamool Congress leaders from the Hills.
The issue of Gorkhaland was raised by the GJM, GNLF and JAP but the Chief Minister categorically stated that the issue of separate state is not within the jurisdiction of the State Government. Talking to media persons after the meeting, Banerjee stated "The Hill parties raised the Gorkhaland issue. It is their prerogative, their sentiment.
In a democratic setup, it is their right to do so. However, the issue is not within the jurisdiction of the State Government. We have our compulsions."
Banerjee then requested the Hill parties to lift the bandh thereby restoring peace and normality in the Hills.
"The meeting was very cordial and positive. The process of dialogue has been opened. Dialogue is a continuous process and it will continue. We will again meet at Uttorkanya in North Bengal on September 12 at 3pm. We all voiced in unison the need to restore peace
and normality in the Hills. People are suffering, tea gardens and education institutions are closed. However the Hill parties have to discuss this with their respective parties and then take a decision.
Let them take their time" stated the Chief Minister. Meanwhile in, the Hills, Bimal Gurung in an audio recording sent from an undisclosed location to media persons declared, "In the next two days we will hold an emergent meeting of the GJM Central Committee. We
will ask the GJM representatives who attended the Kolkata talks to clarify as to what went on in the meeting. However the bandh should not be lifted until Gorkhaland is discussed in Government meeting. The Hill leaders should not rush to lift the bandh. If the CM says that Statehood is not within the jurisdiction of the State Government, let her give this in writing. We will then approach the Centre."
Incidentally, the indefinite bandh hit the 76th-day mark on Tuesday. Gurung stated that the GJM delegation was sent to discuss the single point agenda of Gorkhaland.
"They talked of other issued including compensation to the families of the people who died in police firing. Compensation is secondary. I am fighting for Gorkhaland. If I die I will ask my family not to claim compensation" stated Gurung in the audio clip.
Binay Tamang, Chief Coordinator, GJM who led the GJM team when questioned on the lifting of the ongoing indefinite bandh stated, "We will return to Darjeeling on Wednesday and discuss the matter with the Central committee of the GJM along with the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee and then we will take a stand. However we have
unanimously agreed that the process of restoring peace and normality has to begin immediately."
The GJM submitted a memorandum to the State Government on Gorkhaland.
"We made it clear that Gorkhaland is the aspiration of the masses in the Hills, Terai and Dooars. We have stated that a permanent solution needs to be worked on as temporary arrangements are a failure in the Hills and leads to unrest and violence" stated Tamang.
The GJM further demanded the withdrawal of all cases including the ones who are in judicial custody in connection with the ongoing agitation. They have stated that the Hill Government employees should not be victimized in any way.
"We have demanded a CBI probe into the death of 8 Gorkhaland supporters and into the recent spate of blasts in the Hills. We have also demanded compensation for the next of kin of the 8 who died," added Tamang.
Harka Bahadur Chettri, President , JAP stated, "The outcome was somewhat expected. However we were expectant that the State Government would initiate steps for tripartite talks with the Centre. As the CM stated that the separate state issue is not within the jurisdiction of the State, I requested her to initiate tripartite talks between the
Centre, State and the Gorkhaland stakeholders. However she denied, She
made it clear that she would not call tripartite talks."
The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC- a conglomeration of 14 pro Gorkhaland outfits) echoed Gurung's statement. Kalian Dewan, Coordinator, GMCC stated, "We are upset. The State was not ready to discuss Gorkhaland. The agitation is for Gorkhaland. How can they turn a deaf ear? We want the State Government to pass a Gorkhaland Bill in the West Bengal Assembly. We want the State to be more receptive. We
will hold a meeting soon. The democratic agitation will continue but we will request the GJM to look for an alternative tool to the ongoing indefinite bandh."