Gorkha stir: Cen­tre puts onus on Ma­mata for tri­par­tite talks

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Ku­mar Ut­tam & Pramod Giri let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

SO­LU­TION Con­cerned par­ties should re­solve dif­fer­ences through di­a­logue, tweets Ra­j­nath

The Cen­tre on Sun­day ap­pealed for calm in Dar­jeel­ing but put the onus on the Ma­mata Ban­er­jee gov­ern­ment for pos­si­ble talks tri­par­tite with Gorkha pro­test­ers de­mand­ing a sep­a­rate state.

The hill dis­tricts of West Ben­gal were rel­a­tively calm on Sun­day, a day af­ter vi­o­lent clashes be­tween po­lice and sup­port­ers of the Gorkha Jan­mukti Mor­cha (GJM) left four peo­ple dead.

One In­dia Re­serve Bat­tal­ion of­fi­cer was also stabbed in the clashes which also left 35 other se­cu­rity per­son­nel in­jured.

“All con­cerned par­ties and stake­hold­ers should re­solve their dif­fer­ences and mis­un­der­stand­ings through di­a­logue in am­i­ca­ble en­vi­ron­ment,” Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh tweeted.

Sources said Singh spoke to Ban­er­jee on Sun­day, for the third time in as many days, to ex­plore if she was open to ex­am­ine the sep­a­rate state de­mand. Ban­er­jee has ruled out bi­fur­ca­tion of Ben­gal. The cur­rent ag­i­ta­tion started off as protests against an al­leged move by the Tri­namool gov­ern­ment to im­pose Ben­gali in schools in the hills where most peo­ple speak Nepali.

The GJM, which ad­min­is­ters the semi-au­ton­o­mous Gorkha­land Ter­ri­to­rial Ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­vived the 110-year-old de­mand for a sep­a­rate state af­ter a po­lice raid on the of­fice of its chief Bi­mal Gu­rung. The GJM, an ally of the BJP, has re­fused to talk to the state gov­ern­ment and in­sisted on tri­par­tite talks on state­hood.

“The ini­tia­tive to ex­am­ine the state­hood de­mand has to come from the state gov­ern­ment,” a se­nior home ministry of­fi­cial told HT. “We have lim­ited role to play.”

BJP par­lia­men­tar­ian from Dar­jeel­ing SS Ah­luwalia, also a Union min­is­ter, wrote to the home min­is­ter last week de­mand­ing a com­mit­tee to ex­am­ine the long-pend­ing de­mands of Gorkhas, Adi­va­sis and oth­ers.

The cri­sis has deep­ened the BJP’s dilemma, torn be­tween pres­sure from its ally and its own as­pi­ra­tion to in­crease foothold in West Ben­gal.

The BJP’s state unit feels it can­not sac­ri­fice the party’s in­ter­est in 41 Lok Sabha seats for Dar­jeel­ing.

The Tri­namool faced the first po­lit­i­cal fall­out of the ag­i­ta­tion when one of its lead­ers, Gaulan Lepcha, re­signed from the party in sup­port of a sep­a­rate state.

Lepcha, a three-time for­mer MLA of Gorkha Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front (GNLF), had joined Tri­namool just a cou­ple of months be­fore the cre­ation of a sep­a­rate Kalimpong district in Fe­bru­aray 2016.

The state gov­ern­ment cut off the in­ter­net in the hills on Satur­day night, ap­par­ently to stop shar­ing of protest videos.



GJM ac­tivists raise slo­gans at a rally in Dar­jeel­ing on Sun­day.

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