The talks scheduled for Monday, involving the Union Home Ministry, the West Bengal government and representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) were on Sunday indefinitely postponed, even as the death of three persons, allegedly in police firing the previous day, intensified protests in Darjeeling.
According to Home Ministry sources, the talks were put off on the request of the West Bengal government.
Rajnath speaks to Mamata
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the second time in 48 hours, even as he appealed for peace in the hill region.
An official statement said Ms. Banerjee briefed Mr. Singh over the telephone on Sunday morning about the situation in Darjeeling.
Mr. Singh appealed to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful, the statement said. He said nobody should resort to violence. “In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution. Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
In Darjeeling, anger spilled out on to the streets on Sunday with back-to-back rallies. At Chowk Bazar, in the presence of a huge number of security forces, thousands of protesters raised pro-Gorkhaland slogans. They also brought the body of a person killed allegedly in Saturday’s firing and drove it around amid chants of Gorkhaland and anti-police slogans.
The protests started at 10.30 a.m. with hundreds of Muslims taking out a pro-Gorkhaland rally. Its participants held posters saying, “We support Bimal Gurung come arrest us.” Rehmat Ali, a shopkeeper said, “We want peace in Darjeeling. Deployment of security forces is not a solution.”
This was followed by dozens of rallies at Chowk Bazar, with people from different parts of Darjeeling arriving throughout the day. Despite the intensity of the agitation, there was violence.
In Delhi, Army sources said there was no decision to increase the deployment of Central forces.
The sources said that while they were ready for further assistance, they have not received any orders. Already, six Army columns have been carrying out flag marches in the area in aid of the civil authorities.