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Rush to shops to stock before shutdown – Bandh ‘fate’ depends on Delhi: Morcha

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 14, 2009

Giri at Bagdogra Airport on way to Delhi.

Giri at Bagdogra Airport on way to Delhi.

July 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha added another demand to its cart by asking for political-level tripartite talks on Gorkhaland even as the people of the hills made a last-minute rush to stock up larders for the indefinite strike called by the party.

However, the fulfilment of the demands does not necessarily mean that the Morcha will withdraw its strike. “The fate of the indefinite strike will entirely depend on what happens in Delhi as we are now working closely with the BJP leadership in raising the statehood issue there. What we want now is a tripartite meeting to be held at the political level,” said Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha in Darjeeling.

Two rounds of tripartite talks have been held at the secretary-level between the Centre, the state government and the Morcha. Union home ministry officials said the Centre had suggested August 24 as tentative date for the next round of talks. But the Morcha has been clamouring for talks that will include the political leaders.

Four Morcha leaders — Roshan Giri, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, R.P. Waiba and Rohit Sharma — today left for Delhi to coordinate with the BJP leadership. “Rajeev Pratap Rudy, the BJP Rajya Sabha member, is expected to release a document on Gorkhaland in the Upper House on July 18,” said Tamang.

For the time being, the Morcha seems to have put its demand for transfer of three police officers on the backburner. It had wanted K.L. Tamta, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, to be shifted along with the Darjeeling additional superintendent of police and the Kalimpong subdivisional police officer. “That (the transfer) is a state subject and we have already told the state government about it. The Panighata incident prompted us to start immediately the agitation for Gorkhaland. We were planning to start the agitation from July 20, but we brought it forward.”

The party has chalked out separate strategies for hills and plains. “If the state and Centre do not respond to our demands, we will start the agitation in the Dooars also, but it will not be an indefinite strike.” Another Morcha demand had been the arrest of GNLF leader Rajen Mukhia. The government has already fulfilled it.

After “requests” to schools to empty their hostels, the Morcha softened its stand, announcing that if the institutions asked for help regarding rations, they would get it. Most of the boarders in Darjeeling have not left their hostels.

Till noon, there was a rush in the markets. “It was not so crowded even during Dussera,” said a shopkeeper.

Shoppers virtually grabbed whatever was in store. “How much can I store as I am just a day worker,” said one shopper when asked if he had stocked enough to last for a week.

In a media release issued at Writers’ Buildings today, the state government said it “sees no merit in the Morcha demand for the transfer of police officers”. The government has also requested the Morcha to review its call for an indefinite strike. “A bandh at this stage will adversely affect the tea industry and the schools and reduce the flow of tourists.”

Source: The Telegraph


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