GJM gives Mamata fresh list of demands

Without withdrawing its core demand of Gorkha homeland, in a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — first time since the strike began 70 days ago — the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has put forward half a dozen fresh demands which indicate the GJM’s willingness to start a dialogue. The letter is written by GJM president Bimal Gurung. More than two months after the shutdown in the hills, which has caused immense trouble to residents, the Chief Minister called all political parties in Darjeeling for talks last Tuesday. The date was fixed on August 29.

CBI probe

Following Ms. Banerjee’s call, the GJM chief wrote to her on Thursday. He has asked for a judicial inquiry or a CBI probe into the deaths “caused due to police action” and compensation to family members of the killed during the ongoing movement. While demanding withdrawal of cases against the agitators, Mr. Gurung has asked for unconditional release of the agitators. He demanded restoration of supply of food and essential commodities, while lifting the blockade on Internet, local cable and television channels. “The letter indicates that the GJM is willing to talk,” a State government official said.

Political dialogue

However, Mr. Gurung has also appealed to the Chief Minister to initiate a “political dialogue on the long pending demand of the Gorkhas, which is Gorkhaland, to help to resolve the present crisis.” He has cited the salient features of the tripartite Memorandum of Agreement of 2011 to indicate that “while not dropping their demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland,” the Centre, the State and the GJM “agreed to the setting up of an autonomous body,” which is Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. But the GTA “has failed miserably” and the “experimental models” to “temporarily curb people’s aspiration for separation from West Bengal has not worked out,” Mr. Gurung said in the letter. Thus the demand to form a separate homeland for the Gorkhas remains, Mr. Gurung said in his letter.

But the State officials are hopeful.

“The fact that the Chief Minister has set a date for talks and the GJM broke its silence and put forward few demands indicate that the 70-day stalemate is breaking,” said a senior official.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 2:04:44 AM |

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