Darjeeling: Sharp differences among hill parties on continuing shutdown

Darjeeling: Sharp differences have emerged among various hills parties and the GJM on whether to continue the shutdown in the hills which entered its 77th day on Wednesday over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday held talks with political parties of the Darjeeling hills at the state secretariat in Kolkata and requested them to withdraw the indefinite shutdown.

But the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is spearheading the shutdown, had said a decision would be taken at the party’s central committee meeting after discussion in the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC).

Last night, GJM supremo Bimal Gurung had said in an audio message that there is no question of withdrawing the shutdown until and unless talks begin on the issue of a separate state.

“There is no question of calling off the shutdown until and unless the state government begins dialogue on the one point agenda of Gorkhaland. So many people have died. We have some duties and responsibilities towards the people of Darjeeling,” Gurung had said.

“If the state did not agree to discuss the issue of Gorkhaland, then the hill parties should have walked out. We will inform about our stand after discussing the matter in our central committee,” he had said.

A senior member of GMCC told PTI today on condition of anonymity that members of GMCC are divided on whether to withdraw the shutdown as many hill parties feel that the two- and-half month-long shutdown has not borne any fruit.

“What use is the shutdown when we have achieved nothing in these 77 days of it? This weapon (of shutdown) is not working as it has been used on so many ocassions,” he said.

The GJM took out rallies in various parts of the hills during the day demanding restoration of Internet services, which remain suspended in the hills since June 18 and an immediate withdrawal of police forces from Darjeeling.

Some political party activists dressed in traditional Nepali attire also took out rallies and raised slogans in support of Gorkhaland.

GJM activists and NGOs were seen distributing foods among the local people like other days as food supply has been severely hit by the prolonged shutdown.

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