With the indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills entering its 76th day, all eyes are set on the crucial all-party meeting convened by the West Bengal government on Tuesday at the state secretariat. Leaders of several parties from the hills will join the talks, amid reports of cracks in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee.
“We hope we will be able to find a solution to the Darjeeling crisis,” GJM leader Binay Tamang, who is leading the party’s five-member delegation, told reporters.
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) will attend the meeting along with the GJM.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Monday that her government wanted to restore peace in the strife-hit region.
Banerjee had taken the initiative to call a meeting between the government and hill parties after the GNLF wrote to her requesting for opening a dialogue to resolve the crisis caused by the shutdown in support of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
According to secretariat sources, Banerjee would be accompanied by the state’s chief secretary, home secretary, police chief and a couple of senior ministers at the meeting.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung has alleged that there is a conspiracy by some hill leaders to frame him.
In an audio message on Sunday night, Gurung warned the leaders that if they discussed with the state government, any other issue other than ‘Gorkhaland’, then they would not be allowed to return to the hills.
The indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 76th day on Tuesday. The unrest had begun on June 8 over the GJM’s allegation that the state was trying to impose Bengali language in the hills.
The GJM took out rallies in various parts of the hills demanding restoration of the Internet services, which remain banned in the hills since June 18, and an immediate withdrawal of police forces from Darjeeling.
Members of some political party, dressed in traditional Nepali attire, also took out rallies and raised slogans in support of Gorkhaland.
GJM activists and NGOs were seen distributing food among locals as supply remains severely-hit due to the prolonged shutdown.