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Talks ok, but only on Gorkhaland: Morcha Meeting result to determine strike end

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 15, 2009

Members of the Gorkhaland Personnel patrol a Darjeeling street on Monday night.

Members of the Gorkhaland Personnel patrol a Darjeeling street on Monday night.

Darjeeling, July 14: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today hardened its stand and said it would not withdraw the indefinite strike just because the Centre had confirmed a tripartite meeting.

“Rather, we will withdraw the strike after looking at the outcome of the meeting,” Morcha president Bimal Gurung said today.

The party also made it clear that the three-way talks should be only on Gorkhaland and must be held at the political-level (and not at the secretary-level like in the past).

The Centre is looking at holding the third round of talks on August 24, Union home ministry sources said yesterday. “Unlike earlier times, we will not talk on any other issues,” he told journalists at his house in Singhmari here.

Darjeeling district magistrate Surendra Gupta said he had forwarded a letter sent by the state government to Gurung today.

“The government has informed (the Morcha) that the Centre is willing to hold tripartite talks next month. It has requested that the strike be withdrawn so that the talks can be held in a congenial atmosphere,” Gupta said. Morcha sources confirmed having received the letter.

The party, however, said it had no problems with a bipartite meeting with the chief minister. “We will meet him if he wants us to, but we will only discuss Gorkhaland.”

The Morcha chief also asked the residents of the hills to somehow “pull through” for a month. “I request the people to pull through for a month after which I will help them sustain and provide them with provisions.”

The party which has closed down NH31A — the arterial link to Sikkim — said it would provide relief to the Himalayan state on a regular basis. In his message to the schools, the Morcha president said: “If they still want to send some boarders home, we will provide them with a safe passage. If they want to keep them and run out of ration, we will try and supply (provisions) as much as they need.”

The first day of the strike passed off peacefully with the youth and the woman wings of the Morcha patrolling the Darjeeling streets with batons. The Morcha has decided to start four more training camps for the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) where about 7.500 youths are expected to stay. Members of the GLP are being paid a monthly allowance of Rs 1,500 to 2,000. They will be patrolling the hill streets at night.

With the state government deciding to take a passive stand, there were hardly any policemen around today.

The Morcha had threatened to stop police vehicles from plying on the streets during the strike except for the cars of the superintendent of police, the district magistrate and the subdivisional officers.

In the past, the state government had looked the other way even when the Morcha replaced the “WB” (West Bengal) numberplates of vehicles with “GL” (Gorkhaland).

Yesterday, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP Rajya Sabha member, had raised the demand for Gorkhaland under a special motion in the Upper House.

Referring to Sikkim, he said it had a smaller population (around five lakh) than the Darjeeling hills (where nearly eight lakh people stay) yet enjoyed the status of a state and demanded that political talks should be convened as early as possible.

“Moinul Hassan, a CPM MP, raised a number of objections but the chair recorded the text which had been approved earlier,” said Rudy, who is also the national spokesperson for the BJP, over the phone from Delhi.

Source: The Telegraph

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