Darjeeling: GMCC to ask GJM to review indefinite strike
Darjeeling: The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee, which is spearheading the statehood agitation in the Darjeeling hills, will request the GJM to take a call on the indefinite strike which entered its 69th day on Friday.
The decision to write to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to request for taking a call on the issue was taken at a meeting of the GMCC at Kalimpong on Friday.
The GMCC was divided on attending the August 29 talks convened by the state government in response to the GNLF's letter requesting for a dialogue to restore normalcy in Hills as it was yet to receive a formal invite.
"Today (Friday) two things were discussed. One that we will write to the GJM leadership requesting them to take a call on the strike. The GJM will have to take a call as they had called the indefinite shutdown," a senior GMCC member said.
"Secondly we are waiting for an official invite from the state government to join the talks. We will again meet on August 27 to announce our decision," he said. The GMCC comprises members of all hill parties, including the GJM and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), and is headed by the GJM.
The GJM on Thursday wrote a letter to the Bengal government expressing its willingness to attend the August 29 talks to resolve the Darjeeling stalemate, abandoning its earlier stand. The meeting at Nabanna will be chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and is aimed at restoring peace and normalcy in the Hills.
The GJM Central Committee met at Sitong. "We have decided to attend the meeting. However, we will talk on the one point agenda of Gorkhaland," stated Binay Tamang, Chief Coordinator, GJM.
The GJM, however, has not decided on the persons who will be part of the GJM team. They did not state whether GJM president Bimal Gurung will be attending the talks or not.
Talking to media persons following the meeting, GMCC Coordinator Kalyan Dewan stated: "The state government did not send an invite the GMCC for talks, though some constituent parties like the GNLF and GJM have been invited. The agitation is being spearheaded by the GMCC and they should invite the GJMCC. We will meet again on August 27 to take a decision."
Meanwhile, there was an alleged attempt to blow up the Peshok Bridge in the wee hours of Friday. Local residents claim that they heard a loud explosion. Police are investigating the incident.
The Peshok Bridge on the Lopchu-Peshok road is located around 27 km from Darjeeling town. The road is frequented by vehicles travelling between Kalimpong and Gangtok to Darjeeling.
Local residents complained that at around 1.30 am they heard a loud explosion. They informed the police and a large police contingent visited the spot. The wooden planks of the bridge were damaged.
"Damages are not extensive and the bridge is fit for vehicular traffic. We are investigating as to what caused the explosion as claimed by the locals. It could have been a low intensity blast," stated a police officer. Many are of the opinion that the blast comes on the heels of those in Darjeeling, Kalimpong police station, Sukhiapokhari police station and Lodhama.
Palden Bhutia, a GJM youth leader from Kalimpong was arrested from Pedong area in Kalimpong in connection with the torching of the police outpost there.