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Darjeeling Unrest : Mamata Banerjee calls for dialogue to discuss issue on August 29

File Picture Courtesy : The Indian Express
File Picture Courtesy : The Indian Express

The West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced that a dialogue will be initiated to discuss the Darjeeling issue on August 29 at Nabanna.

According to  Indian express news report, It may be recalled that the Home Ministry has been urging the state government to initiate a dialogue with the Gorkhaland statehood movement after they met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on August 12.

“Initially, the West Bengal CM was very upset with what appeared to be a bipartite meeting between the leaders of the statehood movement and the Home Minister. But it was clarified that it wasn’t the case,” said an official at state secretariat Nabanna had told the Indian Express.

On August 21, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had requested the Centre and the Bengal government to initiate talks to restore peace in Darjeeling where indefinite strike has entered its 68th day. According to a PTI report, Binay Tamang said, “The responsibility of ensuring peace in the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is not only that of the people who live here, but also that of the central government and the West Bengal government. We, therefore, request both the governments to initiate talks at the earliest so that peace and normalcy can be restored.”

GJM chief Bimal Gurung was also booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in connection with twin blasts that rocked Darjeeling on August 19. Tamang, however criticised the blasts and said, “We condemn the blasts which took place in Darjeeling town and Kalimpong and we have already demanded a probe by NIA into the blasts on Saturday last.”

According to various media reports, with the Union Government failing to provide a favourable window to the agitators, the pro Gorkhaland forces are now eager to talk to the West Bengal Government in an effort to resolve the ongoing Hill impasse. The indefinite bandh hit the 68 day mark on Monday with the deadlock continuing.

“Situation is worsening by the day. It is time that the State Government creates a conducive environment for talks and sends us official invites” stated Kalyan Dewan, Convenor Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC- a conglomeration of 13 pro Gorkhaland outfits.) The twin blasts in Darjeeling and Kalimpong on Saturday has further spurred the agitators to demand for immediate talks.

Though there was no casualty in Darjeeling, a civic police died in the blast in Kalimpong along with a Home Guard who was grievously injured. In a press release GJM Assistant Secretary Binay Tamang on Monday stated “The responsibility of ensuring peace in Darjeeling Hills, Terai and Dooars is not only the responsibility of the residents but also that of the Central Government and the Government of West Bengal. We therefore request the Governments to initiate talks at the earliest so that peace and normalcy can be restored in our region at the earliest.”

The release comes on the heels of a poster appearing in Darjeeling town on Sunday demanding that the bandh be lifted immediately . The poster signed “Janta” (public) claimed that it was only the Hill populace suffering in the bandh, whereas a tacit understanding exists between the Government and the agitators.

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