GJM ready to attend GTA meeting if leaders freed
The GJM Saturday accused the central paramilitary troopers of committing "excesses" but in an apparent softening of stand, declared it would participate in the meeting of hill development body GTA if its arrested leaders and workers were released.
However, normal life yet again remained paralysed in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling hills on day four of an an indefinite protest called to press for release of the party activists.
"The paramilitary forces in the hills are using excessive force to enter people's house during raids and also randomly searching every part of the house.
"Some people have also complained that many things have been found missing after these raids," GJM president Bimal Gurung said in a Facebook post.
"The GJM strongly condemns these atrocities by paramilitary forces in the hills," he said.
But the GJM seemed to have softened its stand hours after announcing a boycott of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) meeting Sep 4. An interim GTA chief executive is likely to be elected on that day in place of Gurung, who resigned from the post in July.
Speaking to reporters here, Gurung said: "Most of the GTA Sabha members are in jail If they are released, they will run the body."
However, he made it clear he would not attend as his aim was to "get Gorkhaland".
"We will participate in the meeting only if the ten arrested GTA members are released," said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.
Altogether 724 GJM leaders and workers have taken into custody in recent weeks after the state government cracked down on the renewed movement for formation of a state of Gorkhaland.
All 45 elected members to the GTA are from GJM. The GTA was formed following a tripartite agreement among the central and state government and the GJM in July 2011.
The GJM had swept the GTA election last year, but called it a closed chapter after the United Progressive Alliance endorsed Telangana
On the other hand, shops, markets, banks, post offices, educational institutions and central and state government offices remained closed, and vehicles kept off the roads in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district - Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong - due to the 'Ghar Bahira Janta (people in the streets)' movement launched by the GJM, officials said.
The GJM had called for the Ghar Bahira Janata agitation after its assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang was arrested Thursday in connection with the some old cases.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to visit Darjeeling Sep 10-12 following an invitation from the Lepcha development board. This would be her first tour to the hills after the recent flare up that has seen a series of shutdowns and other forms of protest disrupting normal life.
In Kolkata, the state government said it will provide essential commodities like rice and flour at a subsidised rate through 30 outlets in the three hill subdivisions starting Monday.
Food camps will be set up in police stations across the subdivisions where a kilo of flour and 1.6 kilos of rice will be sold at Rs.7 each per individual, said Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick.
Trouble started afresh in the hills after the GJM intensified the Gorkhaland movement following the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) green light to a separate Telangana.
(Posted on 24-08-2013)