Gorkhaland activists agree to meet West Bengal chief minister

January 20th, 2009 - 9:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, Jan 20 (IANS) A delegation of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders have finally agreed to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Kolkata Wednesday for talks to improve the law and order situation in Jalpaiguri district, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said Tuesday. Gurung earlier declined to meet the chief minister during clashes in the Dooars areas of the state.

“A 7-member delegation led by GJM general secretary Roshan Giri will meet Bhattacharjee at the state secretariat - Writer’s Buildings -in Kolkata Wednesday evening,” Gurung said.

“Bhattacherjee wants to discuss how to solve the prevailing unrest at Jalpaiguri between the GJM and rival Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Bikash Parishad (ABABP). But, at the same time, we will put our demand for Gorkhaland before him again,” Gurung said.

He said they would also demand compensation from the state government for all their activists who were injured in the clashes with ABABP and whose houses were set ablaze by the rival group.

Postponing a public demonstration at Nagrakata town at Jalpaiguri, about 60 km from here, Tuesday, Gurung said his party will not hold any political meetings till the delegation meets the chief minister.

Bhattacharjee Monday invited Gurung for talks in a message sent through state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen.

But Gurung turned down the offer, saying the state government would first have to permit the GJM to hold meetings in the Dooars as well as assure safety and security, since their supporters were assaulted by ABABP whenever they tried to enter Dooars.

In a separate incident Tuesday, about 700 GJM activists burnt effigies of Gurung and Giri at a tea garden in the Dooars and declared that they are leaving the party.

“At least 700 GJM burnt effigies of Gurung and Giri Tuesday afternoon at Gadia Tea Estate, officially declaring their resignation from the party. They have joined ABABP,” Sukra Munda, ABABP vice-president, told reporters.

Special Inspector General of police (Jalpaiguri Range) Zulfiqar Hassan said four companies of para-military force, including Central Police Reserve Force (CRPFF), have reached Siliguri Tuesday evening and would conduct a flag march and patrolling in the affected areas.

The GJM has been leading a movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district.

The central government in 2005 conferred Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), ensuring greater autonomy to the governing body.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills had witnessed violence for about two years.

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