GJM says tripartite talks soon, Mamata rules out Bengal division

Darjeeling, Sep 3 : A pro-Gorkhalnd body Tuesday claimed the central government will soon convene tripartite talks to resolve the impasse over the demand for a new state in West Bengal's Darjeeling hills and hinted it would consider withdrawing the ongoing agitation.

On a visit to the hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, however, ruled out any division of the state.

"Today (Tuesday), union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde assured the hill delegation that the centre would soon convene a tripartite meeting to solve the hill impasse," Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supremo Bimal Gurung said here.

The GJM spearheads the Gorkhaland Joint Action Comnmittee (GJAC) - a forum of pro-Gorkhaland parties.

A GJM delegation, now in New Delhi to discuss the Gorkhaland issue with the central leadership, called on Shinde.

Gurung said the GJAC will consider Shinde's appeal for withdrawing the ongoing intense separatist movement in the hills.

"The home minister has appealed (to us) to withdraw the ongoing agitation and come for dialogue. The GJAC will meet soon and take appropriate action but the movement for Gorkhaland will continue," he added.

Speaking at a gathering of the tribal Lepcha community, considered the original inhabitants of the hills, at Kalimpong town, Banerjee charged the GJM with running an autocracy in the hills, and said her government would not tolerate the frequent shutdowns.

She too appealed to the GJM to withdraw its agitation which has led to a virtual shutdown in the region.

"You must withdraw the bandh (shutdown) and ensure normalcy. They are paralysing life and development in Darjeeling. In the name of agitation they are imposing autocracy by forcing people to remain indoors. We won't tolerate this," said Banerjee during the function at the Fair Ground in this Darjeeling district's sub-divisional town where she was felicitated by the Lepchas.

Ridiculing the GJM for rushing to Delhi, she said: "Why only Delhi, you are free to even go to (US President Barack) Obama if you want to. But Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong (three hill sub-divisions) are inseparable part of West Bengal. They will remain with West Bengal. There is no question of separation."

Banerjee also accused the GJM of intimidating the people so that they did not collect food from the distribution centres opened by her government.

"They have even shut down educational institutions. What right to do they have to rob children of a good education? Their (GJM leaders') children are studying abroad. And they (GJM) are also getting money from abroad," she said.

The chief minister was conferred the Lepcha communisty's highest honour 'Kingtsoom Daarmit, (Goddess of Fortune) by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA) for her initiative to form 'Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board(MLLDB).

The pro-Gorkhaland outfits have intensified the movement since Aug 3 following the UPA's endorsement of a separate Telangana.

The Gorkhaland movement for a new state - to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district - has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region's economy based on tea, timber and tourism.

--IANS (Posted on 03-09-2013)

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