Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed to leaders of the Gorkhaland statehood movement in Darjeeling to call off their agitation, and urged the West Bengal government to initiate a dialogue with them.
During the two-hour meeting chaired by Singh in New Delhi, the leaders of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee submitted two memoranda to the Centre detailing their demands.
The Home Minister appealed to the leaders to call off the indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling, which entered its 60th day on Sunday. He also requested the leaders to end their hunger strike, said an official statement of the ministry. Singh also appealed to the state government to initiate dialogue with Gorkhaland leaders to resolve their demands, the official said. The BJP’s Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia attended the meeting.
“I am concerned about the developments in Darjeeling and the loss of valuable lives and suffering of people over the past 60 days, which pains me immensely. Violence can never be a solution to any problem. In a democracy, solutions are always found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit,” Singh said in his appeal.
He also urged the state government to restore all civil supplies and Internet services, cable TV and local channels.
Swaraj Thapa, a leader of GJM, which is a part of the coordination committee, said Singh had told them he was mindful of the suffering of people in Darjeeling. “We urged him to start process for (creation of) a separate state. The state is suppressing our democratic movement,” Thapa said.
The GJM leader said the home minister had appealed to them to end the agitation. “We will soon decide the future course of action,” he said. The coordination committee, a conglomerate of Darjeeling parties leading the strike, had earlier said it would continue the agitation for a separate state and sought central intervention to break the logjam.
Two top leaders of the Morcha, which has been ruling the autonomous hill council, Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri, did not attend the meeting.