Mamata urges Gorkhaland agitators to call off strike
Darjeeling: Emphasising on finding a permanent solution to the crisis in the Hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday announced sops for various sections of the people during a meeting with parties from the region here.
Describing the meeting held at the state's northern secretariat Uttarkanya as "positive", she called for lifting the indefinite Hill shutdown, which reached the 90- day mark on Tuesday. The next round of meetings would be held on October 16, she declared.
"The Hills have a sentiment. In a democracy people can voice their opinion, ventilate their anger and raise issues that they want. However, every five years, we cannot have unrest. We have to look for a permanent solution to the problem. We have to remember that the Hills are an integral part of Bengal. We have been living together for ages and will continue to do so. We will work out a solution to the impasse and the Hill parties should also come up with suggestions. The process of dialogue is continuous. We will have the next round of talks on October 16 at Nabanna. Normalcy and peace will have to be restored in the Hills," stated the Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, GJM president Bimal Gurung stated that till tripartite talks were not initiated for Gorkhaland, the bandh would not be lifted.
In an audio clip sent from an undisclosed location, Gurung stated: "Gorkhaland was not discussed in the meeting at Uttarkanya. Only when tripartite talks begin for Gorkhaland will I appeal to the public to lift the bandh."
He further stated that the ongoing indefinite bandh was not called by him. "The bandh was called by Binay Tamang. People have been harassed. Students have not attended schools and tea gardens have been closed for the past three months. Binay Tamang will have to come out in public and explain why he called the bandh," stated Gurung.
He also alleged that Tamang and Anit Thapa were working at the behest of the state government. "We have public representatives including civic board Chairmen who were not allowed to attend the talks." Gurung's statements made it evident that the GJM has suffered a split. Rebel GJM leaders — Binay Tamang, Anit Thapa and 4 others — were present in the talks representing the GJM. The MLAs of Darjeeling and Kalimpong were also there.
The GJM submitted a 17-point memorandum. The Chief Minister has assured to look into the demands and even made announcements regarding certain points in the memorandum.
A group of ministers including Moloy Ghatak, Jyotipriyo Mullick, Goutam Deb will sit in a meeting on Thursday to discuss the implementation of minimum wages for the tea garden workers. The Tea Associations will also be called to discuss the bonus issue.
A high-level inquiry will be conducted in the ongoing spate of IED blasts in the Hills along with the killing of Gorkhaland agitators in police firing.
"We will also provide compensation to the next of kin of the dead and those injured in the unrest. Special provisions will be made for the admission of the Hill students who faced problems because of the unrest. Registration for different boards for students who have missed the dates will also be facilitated.
"Government employees who join services by September 15 will be given a one-month advance salary for the festivals. Winter allowance will be given to teachers for teaching during the winter months. PDS will be restored in the Hills soon," she stated.
Incidentally, all these issues were mentioned in the GJM memorandum. "The meeting has been very fruitful. We request the state government to initiate tripartite talks for Gorkhaland. The CM has assured that she will look into the modalities for holding the talks," stated Tamang.
Amar Rai, the GJM MLA from Darjeeling stated: "We will go back and hold a party meeting and decide on the bandh."