GJM calls fresh Darjeeling shut down

Darjeeling, Aug 16 : A defiant Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Friday called a series of action programs to shut down Darjeeling, including a five-day "gharer bhitor janata" curfew beginning on Aug 19 to intensify their campaign for Gorkha statehood.

The GJM, however, relented for the first time in recent weeks showing interest for a political negotiation if West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan invited them, senior GJM leader and chairman of the newly formed Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee Enos Das Pradhan said.

The GJM leadership earlier said they would not hold talks with the West Bengal government after chief minster Mamata Banerjee ruled out a division of the state.

Pradhan, replying to a question said since the Governor was showing interest for a negotiated settlement for the current deadlock, they would talk to the Governor if he invited them for talks.

After a nearly-four hour-long all party meeting chaired by GJM president Bimal Gurung, Pradhan announced the multi-pronged action program saying that the next phase of action would be a curfew from August 19 to 23, followed by street rallies, processions and human chain agitations on state highways and national highways.

The meeting also announced the formation of the Gorklahand Action Committee, which would take all the decisions regarding the campaign henceforth.

Pradhan also said they will hold an all party meeting again on August 18 to chalk out programs.

However, West Bengal ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and other Left parties and the GLF refrained from joining the all party meeting called by the GJM.

Political observers said the GJM's new tactic of Gharer Bhitor Janata curfew was to avoid the wrath of the Calcutta High Court, which said Jatana Curfew and bandh
was illegal.

Meanwhile, Darjeeling district magistrate Punit Yadav said they have been keeping a watch on the development and accordingly will inform the higher authority and the courts of law.

He also said some of the government servants, who abstained from joining duty during the GJM-sponsored bandh, were show caused.

Darjeeling police super Kunal Agarwal said so far 400 people have been arrested for various old and new charges.

Meanwhile, life returned to normalcy with lifting of the Janata Curfew on Thursday as all educational institutions, banks, government offices opened on Friday after a fortnight of closure.

North Bengal Development minister Gautam Deb reacting to the fresh agitation call from August 19, said they would fight politically with the current situation because the GJM was dictating
the life of the hill people.

Former minister and veteran CPI-M leader Ashok Bhattacharrya said they wanted a peaceful settlement to the issue as any hard line would not help the current deadlock.

--IBNS (Posted on 16-08-2013)

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