GJM calls off stir in Darjeeling after Rajnath Singh’s appeal

Updated - September 26, 2017 11:18 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2017 10:57 pm IST - Kolkata

Bimal Gurung. File

Bimal Gurung. File

Almost 100 days after a near- total shutdown in Darjeeling hills demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung on Tuesday announced withdrawal of the bandh.

From 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the strike will be withdrawn, Mr. Gurung told journalists in Darjeeling.

The development came hours after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a fresh appeal to Mr. Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh.

Talks to be held

Mr. Singh also said that he had asked Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to convene an official-level meeting in the Ministry of Home Affairs within a fortnight to discuss all related issues.

“Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and the entire people of Darjeeling hills have suffered a lot since the strike. I have been pained immensely by what has happened in Darjeeling hills,” a press statement issued by the PIB quoted the Home Minister as saying.

The GJM has been demanding that a tripartite dialogue involving the Centre, State and the GJM be started for the strike to be lifted.

While there was no direct assurance of tripartite talks by the Centre, the proposal of an official-level meeting was enough for the GJM.

Pressure was mounting on the leadership to call off the strike as markets, tea gardens, markets and other commercial installations were slowly opening in the hills.

The shutdown of administrative offices was announced on June 12 and on June 15 the GJM gave a call for a complete shutdown when police raided the house of Bimal Gurung.

The 100-day shutdown has brought the life and livelihood of people in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts to a grinding halt.

In the past three months, the hills also witnessed several incidents of violence as clashes broke out between Gorkhaland supporters and police.

Two rounds of talks with the West Bengal government and hill parties on August 29 and September 12 failed to break the deadlock.

Meanwhile during the day the State government restored Internet services in the hills.

The government has been claiming that “normalcy in the hill districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong has been restored with active participation of the residents of the two districts.”

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