The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership has turned down Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s appeal to call off the “fast-unto-death” programme by some of its activists which entered its eighth day on Friday.

“Our president Bimal Gurung has made clear to Mr. Chidambaram our refusal,” senior GJM leader and member of its central committee Benoy Tamang told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

The GJM has been demanding creation of a Gorkhaland State comprising Darjeeling and its adjoining areas in West Bengal.

Mr. Chidambaram, in a statement issued in New Delhi, made the appeal to the GJM even as he stressed the need for creating a cordial atmosphere for the tripartite talks scheduled to be held in Darjeeling on December 21.

The GJM leadership said that though it had abided by Mr. Chidambaram’s request to call off its four-day bandh 12 hours after it had begun in the Darjeeling hills on December 14, the fast would continue.

The condition of some of those participating in the protest has been worsening by the day.

West Bengal government’s appeal

The West Bengal government too believes that by calling such an agitation in the run-up to the talks, the GJM is only vitiating the atmosphere. It has also appealed to the GJM to call off the agitation, according to State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen.

“No need for agitational approach”

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

Earlier, Mr. Chidambaram, in a statement issued in New Delhi, said as the talks involving the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM were already scheduled, there was no need to adopt an agitational approach on the eve of such dialogue.

He said the GJM’s hunger strike was still continuing and he was saddened to learn that several on fast were suffering from dehydration and some hospitalised. “The deteriorating health of some who are observing fast is a matter of concern to all of us. Hence, I would appeal to the GJM to call off the stir immediately and utilise its time and energy to prepare for the tripartite talks,” the Home Minister said.

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