West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has described her meeting with parties of Darjeeling Hills as “positive” and said both sides had agreed to hold dialogues to restore peace in the region. She, however, refused to discuss the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
According to Indian Express news report, Soon after the meeting, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung said there was “no question of calling off” the strike. He also said that when the government refused to discuss the Gorkhaland issue, the Hill parties should have walked out.
Speaking to reporters after meeting representatives of GJM, Gorkha National Liberation Front, Jan Andolan Party and Trinamool Congress Hill unit at state secretariat Nabanna, Mamata said, “The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. It was positive. We have all agreed to start a dialogue among all Hill parties and the state government. The prime agenda right now is to restore peace and normalcy in the Hills,” the CM said, adding that the government has requested all parties to withdraw the indefinite shutdown in the Hills.
“They raised the Gorkhaland issue but we did not want to discuss it,” she said, adding that the next meeting over the issue will be held at Uttar Kanya in north Bengal on September 12.
Chief coordinator of the GJM central committee, Binay Tamang, said, “The GJM believes that to restore normalcy, nothing is more welcome than a political dialogue.” Asked whether the party will withdraw the shutdown call, Tamang said they would speak to other GJM leaders before taking a decision.
On Gorkhaland, he said: “The GJM strongly appealed to the chief minister to rationally look into our century-old demand of Gorkhaland and move forward with necessary dialogue where all related issues can be discussed till a consensus to an amicable and plausible permanent solution is reached.”