West Bengal Govt-GJM talks on Darjeeling today

June 27th, 2008 - 1:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Shivraj Patil

Kolkata, June 27 (ANI): Talks between the West Bengal Government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is demanding a separate Gorkhaland, will take place here today.
The GJM delegation will meet Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. On Thursday, the West Bengal Government ruled out discussion with GJM leaders on each separate statehood demand.
According to sources, issues like development of Darjeeling Hills, greater autonomy to the Darjeeling Gorkha hill council and administrative rearrangement are expected to be discussed during the meeting.
Earlier, a four-member delegation of the GJM met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in New Delhi. They submitted a memorandum in support of their demands.
Patil said that the issues raised by them should be resolved through dialogue in a peaceful manner with the State. He also emphasised the need to maintain peace and free movement of essential commodities in the region.
Meanwhile, life returned to normal in the Darjeeling Hills after the GJM relaxed its indefinite shutdown till July 5.
The GJM had called for an indefinite shutdown on Monday from June 10 onwards to mount pressure for the granting of separate statehood.
The GJM, comprising about half a dozen parties, has been organizing protests over the past few months in the Darjeeling Hills over a demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.
The West Bengal Government, however, has been resisting the demand.
The strike in the Darjeeling Hills has badly hit the tourism and the tea industry, two mainstays of the local economy. A tea industry official has warned exports of premium Darjeeling tea could fall 20-25 per cent this year.
The Gorkha population in West Bengal is around one million out of 80 million people, although the overwhelming majority is concentrated in Darjeeling. (ANI)

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