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Morcha says hill bandh on

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 23, 2009

July 22: A day after the government said everything, including Gorkhaland, could be discussed across the table, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha linked a withdrawal of the indefinite bandh with the transfer of north Bengal’s senior-most police officer and the release of alleged arsonists.

“The right atmosphere was being created with the government bringing the talks forward and agreeing to discuss Gorkhaland at the tripartite meeting on August 11… but justice has been denied to us,” general secretary Roshan Giri said.

“Although GNLF leader Rajen Mukhia was released today, 19 of our supporters are still in jail. The government has not done anything to transfer (north Bengal inspector-general) K.L. Tamta, the Darjeeling additional superintendent and the Kurseong subdivisional police officer. Our bandh will continue”

He also complained about the Centre’s refusal to hold the talks at the political level.

The Morcha supporters had been held after they attacked Mukhia’s house and clashed with GNLF activists. The indefinite bandh, which has paralysed the hills, was called to protest the arrest.

After the state decided to deploy the paramilitary to clear the blockade of the national highway linking Sikkim with the rest of the country, the Morcha exempted it from the bandh yesterday.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said the talks should be scrapped if the strike was not withdrawn.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj told the Lok Sabha today that the creation of Gorkhaland would help integrate the troubled region with the rest of India. The Morcha had supported the party Lok Sabha candidate from Darjeeling, Jaswant Singh, on the condition that his party would raise its demand in Parliament.

Swaraj argued that smaller states like Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, created under the NDA’s rule, were easier to manage.

Home minister P. Chidambaram said the government could not “apriori” take a decision on the statehood demand.

A home ministry official said: “What he means is that he would like to find out the reality at the ground level, after talks with all parties concerned, before making any statement.”

The Bengal government said allowing a discussion on Gorkhaland did not mean it had softened its stand. “The state home secretary had yesterday requested the Morcha to sit for a dialogue and said the party was free to bring up Gorkhaland and other issues,” chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said.

Source:The Telegraph

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