Hill masses pin hope on today's meeting to break the ice
Darjeeling, August 28, 2017: Though the Hill parties are prepared to bring "Gorkhaland" to the table in the crucial meeting between the West Bengal Government and the agitators in the State Secretariat in Howrah on Tuesday, the question doing the round is whether the meeting will be able to break the deadlockand reinstate peace and normality by lifting the indefinite bandh that touched the 75 day mark on Monday.
All eyes are trained on the meeting called by the State Government at "Nabannya," the State Secretariat on Tuesday at 4pm, waiting for a favourable outcome with life having come to a halt in the Hills and the economy already in shatters. 8 people have lost their lives since the beginning of the unrest in June this year.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF,) Jan Andolan Party (JAP,) Trinamool Congress and representatives of different Hill development boards will be attending the talks.
Binay Tamang, Chief Coordinator, GJM leading a 5 member team lauded the State Government's initiatives to open the process of dialogue. "The doors for dialogue have opened. Now we will have series of meetings with the State and Centre. The present impasse can only be solved through dialogue" claimed Tamang talking to media persons at the Bagdogra Airport near Siliguri.
When questioned on whether Gorkhaland will feature in Tuesday's talks, Tamang stated "Gorkhaland features in our agenda. We will raise the issue in the talks. Along with this we will discuss the ongoing impasse and steps to benefit the masses."
Tamang feels that all alternative arrangements like the DGHC, GTA have failed in the Hills, hence a permanent solution needs to be worked out.
Regarding the State Government being a strong antagonist of Gorkhaland and the decision of the Hill parties not to hold any dialogue with the State, Tamang stated "Gorkhaland is a constitutional demand. We have every right to ask. Even when we had met Union Minister of Home Rajnath Singh in Delhi on August 13, he had asked the stakeholders to hold talks with the State Government as per the Federal structure of our country."
Meanwhile GJM Chief Bimal Gurung who in an audio recording dispatched from an undisclosed location on Sunday had stated that if any other issue, other than Gorkhaland is raised by the State Government then the Hill parties should walk out. He had further warned that if the Hill leaders discussed on any other issue other than Gorkhaland they would not be allowed to return to the Hills.
Gurung had even trained guns at some Hill leaders both from the GJM and other parties alleging that they had been conspiring with the State to trap him and get him arrested. Reacting to this Tamang stated "I came to know of all this from media reports. We will not like to comment on this."
When questioned on whether the bandh will be lifted after the Tuesday meet, Tamang stated "Let the peace talks begin first."
A 5 member team led by Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri will represent JAP. The team includes Amar Lama, Anmol Prasad, Pratibha Kumai and RC Giri. "We will not disappoint the masses. Whatever issues we raise or demands we make will be pro-public" stated Chettri.
The GNLF team will comprise of 7 members. "We will announce the names on Tuesday. The issue of Gorkhaland will be raised by us in the meeting" stated Mahendra Chettri, General Secretary, GNLF.
Incidentally GNLF had written to the CM asking her to intervene in the ongoing Hill impasse. The meeting was called by the Chief Minister in response to that letter.
CM Mamata Banerjee will be chairing the Nabannya meet on Tuesday. The West Bengal Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Police Chief will also be present for the talks.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has stated that her Government wanted restoration of peace and normality in the Hills.