Gorkha body extends shutdown relaxation till Aug 7

July 5th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, July 5 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state in northern West Bengal, Saturday extended the relaxation period for its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills till August 7, but threatened to close down all government offices from Monday. GJM president Bimal Gurung wrote a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee urging him to prevail upon the central government to call an immediate tripartite meeting on the issue.

Briefing reporters after the party’s central committee meeting in Darjeeling, GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang said: “The relaxation period for the shutdown has been extended till August 7.”

The GJM had last month decided to keep its indefinite shutdown in abeyance till Saturday.

However, in an apparent effort to keep its workers’ morale high, the GJM leadership announced a series of protests.

The party declared it would not allow felling of trees in the forests in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseyong. “We also won’t allow anybody to take timber out of the hills.”

Tamang said that his party activists would not allow offices of the central and the state governments as well as of the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) to open from Monday. “They will be shut down for an indefinite period,” he said.

Banks, post offices and food and supply offices would remain open only Monday and Friday from July 7, he said.

The central committee members of the party would use “GL” number plates on their vehicles from Monday, and the public vehicles would have to do the same from August.

In his letter to Bhattacharjee, Gurung said his party would not hold any more bi-partite meetings with the state government. “We urge you to arrange a tri-partite meeting in Delhi with the centre as the third party soon,” the missive said.

The GJM has been leading the movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that ensures greater autonomy to the DGHC.

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