Gorkha group meets home minister, calls off shutdown (Lead, changing dateline)

June 24th, 2008 - 10:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shivraj Patil

Siliguri/New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state in West Bengal, Tuesday withdrew its indefinite shutdown till July 5 in the Darjeeling Hills following “positive” talks with union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in New Delhi. Making the announcement at a public meeting in Darjeeling town, GJM president Bimal Gurung said a delegation, headed by GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, had held a positive dialogue with Patil in New Delhi.

He also said: “The decision has been taken in view of the ongoing turmoil at the centre because of the nuclear deal standoff between the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the Left parties.”

Asked whether the GJM would again give a call for indefinite shutdown on July 5, Gurung told reporters that his party’s central committee would take a decision on the issue.

The GJM started its latest shutdown June 16.

Home Minister Patil told the GJM team that the issues raised by the party should be “resolved through dialogue in a peaceful manner with the state (West Bengal)”.

“If any cooperation is needed, the union government may help the state and others also if such cooperation is asked for. He emphasized the need to maintain peace and free movement of essential commodities in the region,” a home ministry spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a four-member GJM delegation arrived in Kolkata Tuesday to hold talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Friday.

“The talks will be held at 5 p.m. Friday,” Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb told reporters in Kolkata.

Deb said the problem could only be solved through a political dialogue.

On whether the state government had any plans to deploy the army to tackle the situation in Darjeeling Hills, the top bureaucrat said: “The army will be used only when certain need arises.”

The GJM is spearheading a movement for creation of a separate Gorkhaland state, and has also opposed the granting of Sixth Schedule status to Darjeeling, which gives autonomy to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

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