The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Thursday put off its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills from Friday till next round of talks with the state government, a move welcomed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The shutdown has been suspended till September 12, when the talks are scheduled to take place, GJM convenor Binay Tamang said in Darjeeling on Thursday.
Welcoming the move, Banerjee told newsmen at the state secretariat, “It’s a good news. We want restoration of peace and wellbeing of the people there (in Darjeeling).”
The indefinite bandh for a separate Gorkhaland state had entered its 78th day today and normal life was hit during the period of agitation.
“The indefinite bandh will remain suspended for 12 days from tomorrow. Shops, markets, offices, schools, tea gardens will open and transport will be on the road from 6 am tomorrow,” Tamang told reporters after the party’s central committee meeting here.
“If the outcome of the dialogue is not positive, we will convene a meeting on the same day and decide whether to resume the shutdown or chalk out a new course of action,” he said.
GJM supremo Bimal Gurung, who is in hiding and was not present in the central committee meeting, however, said there is no question of suspending the strike unless talks begin on separate state of Gorkhaland.
“So many people have died for the statehood cause. Suspending the strike at this stage means betraying their sacrifices. Most of the central committee members were not privy to the decision - even I was not informed. He (Tamang) has no authority to take a decision on shutdown,” Bimal Gurung said from an undisclosed location.
“He (Tamang) took this decision on his own. He is playing into the hands of state government. People of the hills will not forgive him,” said Gurung, who is in hiding after the police slapped charges against him under UAPA or Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Tamang told reporters after a rally in Kusreong during the day, “Bimal Gurung is behaving in an adamant and foolish way. This is no way to lead a political movement. Roshan Giri, who claims to be general secretary of our party, should immediately resign. He is good for nothing.”
Giri, too, said the bandh will continue. “Gurung has said the strike will continue and there is no question of withdrawing it,” Giri said.
Asked whether Gurung had been apprised of the central committee’s decision to suspend the bandh, Tamang said, “He will be informed.”
At several places, GJM workers and supporters took out processions in support of the shutdown.
Banerjee had described the August 29 talks, which were held at the state secretariat, as “positive and cordial” and said dialogue process will continue to restore peace and normalcy in the hills.
The hill leaders had raised the issue of Gorkhaland statehood at the meeting but the state government did not agree, she had said.