GJM CHIEF Bimal Gurung on Tuesday said he will decide on lifting the indefinite strike in Darjeeling Hills only after tripartite talks — between the Hill parties, the state government and the Centre — begin for the formation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. The statement came hours after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a second bipartite meeting with the Hill parties but did not discuss the need for tripartite talks.
In an audio released by the GJM, while describing expelled leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa as “traitors”, Gurung claimed that the indefinite strike was called by Tamang, and that he had suggested that the party should wait before taking such a decision.
“The bandh was called by Binay Tamang. I was not in favour… I had scolded him… I had told him we could have discussed it first and then called a bandh after a few days, but he said that it was essential after the party headquarters was destroyed. It was Binay Tamang who called the strike and people had to suffer… he should clarify this,” he said in the 13-minute audio clip.
“If you want to know when I will ask for the strike to be lifted, my answer will be when a tripartite meeting is started. Otherwise, I request the public not to lift the strike. You have braved for three months, please bear for some more time. In today’s meeting, not a word on Gorkhaland was uttered. JAP issued a press release, stating that there should be a tripartite meeting… if you we are sincere towards Gorkhaland, you should have raised you voice…,” he added.
“Binay Tamang should have raised the Gorkhaland issue. He is a traitor. Why demand the removal of cases (against GJM leaders)? The cases will be automatically removed after Gorkhaland is created. There are so many cases against me… I will continue the agitation in a democratic manner. The people should not get tired. I appeal to the people to support me for some more days, as they have done for the last 90 days,” said Gurung. “We are putting pressure on the Centre (for Gorkhaland) and I think a solution will be reached soon. Those who want the strike to be lifted should take responsibility if any untoward incident happens,” he added.
Maintaining that the indefinite strike is the “people’s prerogative”, Gurung said that the issue of Gorkhaland should not be derailed. “I had sent a list of delegates to participate in today’s meeting but their names were removed. Some are trying to sabotage GJM. Anit Thapa and Binay Tamang are going against janta, jati and demand… Not a single word was said on Gorkhaland. We wanted to pressurise the state for tripartite talks…,” he said.
On the CM announcing compensation for the alleged victims of police firing in the Hills, Gurung said: “Eleven of our people were killed. It is not about compensation, we should not be thinking about compensation. Once Gorkhaland is achieved, we will take care of that. The meeting discussing salaries, compensations, winter classes (in schools) reflects the divisive policies of our brothers. Our people are being arrested and Anit Thapa and Binay Tamang are not. This shows they are hand-in-glove with the state government. Otherwise, why would they not allow GJM representatives to be a part of the meeting?” he asked.
“The people understand everything. They talk about peace, and on the other hand, police torture us, create upheavals by implementing Section 144 (CrPc). They are lathicharging peaceful protesters… going to houses and destroying them. It’s a conspiracy by the Bengal government. Binay Tamang, Anit Thapa and the Bengal government should not think they can finish Bimal Gurung. I am not bothered about anything. Not family, not myself. Only about Gorkhaland,” said Gurung.
Calling Tamang an agent of the Bengal government, Gurung said people should be wary of him and a government that holds talks with leaders who have already been expelled from GJM.