Bimal Gurung ready for dialogue with Bengal govt
Kolkata: Underground Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung on Thursday said in New Delhi that he was ready for talks with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, according to an interview with a news agency. The party is willing to negotiate and resolve the standoff with the state government and take the discussion on Gorkha identity forward, he added.
The leader, with 381 criminal cases filed against him during June-September agitation for statehood, said that his demand was within the "ambit of Indian Constitution" and the Gorkhas will remain part of this country till their last breath.
Darjeeling had been on the boil for more than three months last year after the GJM begun a movement demanding that a separate state of Gorkhaland be carved out of Bengal.
"Dialogue is the solution and I am ready to talk to Mamata Banerjee," Gurung said. The Gorkhas demands are well within the ambit of the Indian Constitution, he stressed.
Gurung rejected reports that he was leading a separatist movement and added that he was prepared to face an independent investigation into the Darjeeling violence.
The state government quelled the movement very efficiently and installed Binay Tamang, once a close aide of Gurung, as chief of the board of administrators for the Hills. Normalcy has also returned to the Hills as a result.
Gurung said he had nothing against the people of Bengal but the language and culture of Gorkhas were distinct from them and whatever they were demanding was within the ambit of the Constitution.
Eleven Gorkhas died in police and other violent action, he said. He also appealed for peace and asked his supporters to stay away from any illegal activity.
It may be mentioned that last September, the Mamata Banerjee government had ordered a massive crackdown against the GJM leadership in Darjeeling.
A lookout notice was also issued against Gurung and surprise raids were conducted to hunt him down. Nine GJM leaders, including a few central committee members, were eventually arrested from the Darjeeling-Sikkim border.