New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed to the leaders of the Gorkhaland statehood movement in Darjeeling to call off their agitation, and urged the West Bengal government to initiate dialogue with them, a Home Ministry official said.
During a two-hour meeting chaired by Singh here on Sunday evening, the leaders of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) submitted a memorandum to the Centre detailing their demands.
The home minister appealed to the leaders to call off the indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling, which entered 60th day on Monday.
He also requested the leaders to end their hunger strike, the official said.
Singh also appealed to the West Bengal government to initiate dialogue with the Gorkhaland movement leaders to resolve their demands, the official said.
"I am concerned about the developments in Darjeeling and the loss of valuable lives and sufferings of people over the past 60 days which pains me immensely.
Violence can never be a solution to any problem. In a democracy, solutions are always found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit.
I also appeal to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to initiate a dialogue with the GJM and other stakeholders of Darjeeling, who are on a strike for last 60 days. I also appeal to the people of Darjeeling to display sensitivity and also keep in mind their civic responsibilities. No grievances & problems can be resolved without any dialogue," the home minister said.
The BJP's Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia also attended the meeting.
Swaraj Thapa, a leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is a part of the GMCC, said the home minister had told them that he was mindful of the sufferings of the people in Darjeeling.
"We urged him to start the process for (creation of) a separate state," Thapa said.
The GMCC, the apex body of the hill parties, had earlier said that it would continue the agitation for a separate state and sought the central government's intervention to break the logjam.
Two top leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has been ruling the autonomous hill council, Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri, did not attend Sunday's meeting.
Supplies of food and essentials were drying up due to the strike. Internet services have also been snapped in the hills since June 18, when the agitation started.
Except for medicine shops, all business establishments, schools and colleges remained closed in the hills.
Police and security forces patrolled the streets in the hills and kept a vigil on the entry and exit routes.